Diabetes—an American Epidemic
Today, diabetes mellitus is one of the most serious health challenges facing more than 14.6 million Americans. According to a recent study released by the American Diabetes Association, the incidence of diabetes has ballooned as more Americans become overweight or obese with more than 1 million new cases occurring each year. As if these statistics weren't frightening enough, the disease is almost two times more likely to occur in African Americans than non-Latino white Americans. The disease killed more than 284,000 Americans last year—making it the fifth deadliest disease in the United States.
Responding to Diabetic Emergencies
Although hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia are different conditions, their major signs are similar and include -
Care for Diabetic Emergencies
If the conscious victim can take food or fluids, give him or her sugar, preferably in liquid form. Most candy, fruit juices and non-diet soft drinks contain enough sugar to begin to reverse hypoglycemia. Common table sugar, either dry or dissolved in a glass of water, also works well to return the victim's blood sugar to an acceptable level. If the person's problem is low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), the sugar you give will help quickly. If the person's blood sugar level is already too high (hyperglycemia), the additional sugar will do no further harm.
Often, a person who has diabetes will know what is wrong and will ask for something with sugar in it. He or she may carry a readily available source of sugar for such situations. If the person is conscious, but does not feel better approximately five minutes after taking sugar, EMS personnel should be called immediately.
If the person is unconscious, call EMS personnel immediately. Do not give the victim anything by mouth. Instead, monitor signs of circulation and breathing and keep him or her from getting overheated or chilled.
To learn more about responding to diabetic emergencies and other sudden illnesses, call your local Red Cross chapter; enroll in a first aid course or visit www.redcross.org.
American Diabetes Association. "Diabetes Statistics for African Americans."