Diabetes Mellitus is a group of metabolic diseases in which a person has high blood sugar, either because the body does not produce enough insulin or because cells do not respond to the insulin that is produced.


This high blood sugar produces the fowling symptoms:

  • Polyuria (frequent urination).
  • Polydipsia (increased thirst).
  • Polyphagia (Increased hunger).


There are three main types of Diabetes:

  • Type 1: This results from the body's failure to produce insulin and requires the person to inject insulin.
  • Type 2: This results from insulin resistance where the cells fail to use insulin properly.
  • Gestational: This is a pregnant woman, who has never had Diabetes before, but develops a high blood glucose level during pregnancy. This can sometimes precede Type 2.


Patients must make sure that eat the right type of food and balance their food intake with the insulin dose they are injecting, imbalance can cause sugar levels to rise (Hyperglycaemia) or fail (Hypoglycaemia).


There are three reasons why a patient's sugar levels become low:

  • Insulin overdose.
  • Missing meals.
  • Sudden or too much exercise.


Signs & Symptoms:

  • Condition starts suddenly.
  • Uncharacteristic changes, uncooperative, violent, appears drunk, confused.
  • Pale, cold skin, sweating profusely.
  • Fast pulse, rapid shallow breathing.
  • Patient may be wearing a medic-alert bracelet or necklace.



  • Patient needs a sugary drink, sugar lumps, glucose tablets, or other sweet foods. If they respond well make sure you give them more food or drink.
  • If they do not respond within 10 minutes or they become dangerously unmanageable dial 999 for help.
  • If they become unconscious, place in recovery position.




Signs & Symptoms:

  • Slower onset.
  • Increased thirst.
  • Headaches.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Fatigue.
  • Weight loss.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Frequent urination.



  • Drink more water.
  • Exercise more as this lowers blood glucose.
  • Review diet.
  • Review medication but only with your doctor.


Untreated HYPERGLYCAEMIA can develop into an emergency condition called KETOACIDOSIS whereby the body can not use sugar as a fuel source because of the lack of insulin so burns fat instead. The by-product of this is Ketones, which in high levels are poisonous.



  • DO NOT give any unconscious patient anything to eat or drink.



We hope you find this article useful. This is one in an alphabetical series of articles addressing various symptoms and their first aid treatments. If you would like more information on related resuscitation and first aid training, please get in touch.


You might also be interested in our blog. In particular our post that talks about recognising hyperglycaemia when someone is drunk.


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