Diabetes is an incurable condition where the body is unable to take up sugar from the blood and into the muscles due to lack of the hormone known as Insulin (Type I diabetes). The blood sugar rises will damage the blood vessels, eyes and the kidneys over many years. Diabetes is treated with insulin injections to try to keep the high blood sugars within normal limits.

Diabetics can be unwell and fall into a coma if the sugar gets too high or too low (a “hypo”). Coma due to hypos can cause brain damage or death. Prior to becoming unconscious, diabetics with hypos become agitated, confused, irrational or disorientated.

If you find someone who is unconscious, after completing the DR ABC approach, look for medic alert bracelets which may reveal if the casualty is diabetic. Low sugars are more dangerous than high sugars and so if you do find an unconscious or confused disorientated diabetic casualty, you should try to give them sugar. If they are conscious, this can be via a sugary drink. If they are unconscious, this could be via honey or a carbohydrate gel which can be rubbed into the inside of the cheek.

An emergency ambulance is essential.

Older people, particularly the overweight, may develop resistance to their own insulin and so are given tablets to help it move sugar out of the blood (Type II diabetes). It is extremely rare for Type II diabetes to have an emergency related to their diabetes and they do not get the hypoglycaemic attacks unless they are being treated with insulin injections.