Posted in First Aid Articles, on September 10, 2020
By definition, diabetes is a disease in which your body loses its ability to properly store and use glucose as fuel for the body. Glucose is found in foods such as bread, pasta, rice, potato, as well as some vegetables. The body uses the enzyme Insulin to store and later use this glucose for energy. This Insulin is made by your pancreas. There are two types of diabetes, they are easy to remember: type-1 and type-2.
Type-1: This is when the body makes little to no insulin and is also referred to as “insulin-dependent” diabetes. This type requires periodic injections of insulin.
Type-2: This is the type of diabetes where your body is unable to use the insulin that it makes. Type-2 diabetes patients also benefit from insulin, but they often have to keep their sugar levels in the target range by exercising and eating healthy.
As a first aider, you need to understand that regardless of what type of diabetes your victim might be living with, they can suffer from either of the following conditions: Hyperglycemia, and hypoglycemia.
- Hyperglycemia: This happens when the victim has too much sugar in their blood. This can happen if they don’t take their medication or by eating things that are too high in glucose. This person needs to take their insulin.
- Hypoglycemia: This condition happens when the person does not have enough sugar or too much insulin in their system. This person needs to consume sugar.
Signs and symptoms:
- Dizziness, drowsiness, and concussion
- Rapid and shallower breathing
- Faster pulse
- Feeling and looking sick
- Extreme thirst and hunger
- Breath that smells like alcohol
How to help:
If you come across someone who is exhibiting these signs and symptoms, you can ask about their past medical history to figure out whether they have diabetes. Once you’ve determined that the person does in fact have diabetes, you always want to start by giving them something sweet. The reasoning behind this is that hypoglycemia is far more common than hyperglycemia because the body has more ways to get rid of extra glucose in the blood such as urinating, sweating it out, and drinking water to dilute the sugar. With that being said, hypoglycemia is the more common condition between the two and as rescuers we always try to treat for it first. On the opposite side of things, if you give insulin to someone who is already low in sugar, they could go into insulin shock and possibly die.