A diabetic who appears to be drunk may be suffering from low blood sugar. The condition is brought on by taking too much insulin or eating too little food. Lt can also occur after exercise has burnt up the sugar in the blood.
Low blood sugar affects the brain and leads to coma. The condition can be distinguished from drunkenness by the person’s breath, which will have no smell of alcohol.
Symptoms of low blood sugar
• Pale appearance, with sweating, rapid pulse, shallow breathing and possibly trembling.
• Confused state, sometimes resembling drunkenness.
• Faintness, leading to unconsciousness in 15 to 20 minutes.
What you can do
• If a diabetic collapse comes on quickly, you can assume that the patient needs sugar. If he is conscious, give him three or four teaspoons of sugar, some cake or biscuits, jam, chocolate, or a sweet drink.
• If the patient is unconscious, put him in the recovery position, then telephone 999 and ask for an ambulance.
What the patient can do
A person who is subject to low blood sugar attacks should carry a card or wear a bracelet giving his condition and emergency instructions. This can avoid the danger of being mistaken for being drunk.
A diabetic on insulin should not drive or use dangerous machinery unless he has had food in the previous two hours. Consequently, regular mealtimes are important.