by Joseph D. Tabora, M.D.
This article starts below.
Diabetic coma, or hyperosmolar, non-ketotic diabetic coma, is one of the acute complications of diabetes mellitus. In diabetic coma, severe dehydration occurs because of osmotic diuresis.
The patient is usually an elderly who has a stroke or pneumonia, preventing the adequate replacement of water that is lost in the urine. The high blood sugar level promotes excessive urination and the patient is not able to drink enough water to replenish the water loss. Unlike diabetic ketoacidosis, diabetic coma is not usually accompanied by nausea, vomiting, rapid breathing, or abdominal pain. These are the symptoms that cause patients with diabetic ketoacidosis to seek medical assistance. The lack of symptoms prevents early medical intervention and causes severe dehydration. The profound dehydration may push the patient into a coma. The absence of symptoms of diabetic coma contributes to the 50% mortality rate for this condition.