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Diabetic Hyperosmolar Syndrome


Disease: Diabetic Hyperosmolar Syndrome Diabetic Hyperosmolar Syndrome
Category: Endocrine and metabolic diseases

Disease Definition:

Diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome occurs when a person with type 2 diabetes doesn’t follow a treatment plan and his/her blood sugar level tops 33 millimoles per liter (mmol/L) or 600 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). The blood will become thick and syrupy in case the blood sugar gets this high. The excess sugar will pass from the blood into the urine, triggering a filtering process that draws massive amounts of fluid from the body. Prompt medical care is essential for diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome because it can lead to life-threatening dehydration if it is left untreated.

Work Group:

Symptoms, Causes


It takes diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome days and weeks to develop. Early signs and symptoms that a patient needs to pay attention to include:

  • Vision loss
  • Excessive thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Dry, parched mouth
  • Weakness on one side of the body
  • High blood sugar level
  • Sleepiness or confusion
  • Warm, dry skin with no sweating


Some of the things that may trigger diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome are:


  • Certain medications, such as diuretics, also called water pills
  • Illness
  • Substance abuse
  • Not following the diabetes treatment plan
  • A urinary tract infection, pneumonia or other underlying infections.


Diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome may sometimes be the result of undiagnosed diabetes.



Some of the complications that diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome may cause include:


  • Kidney damage, in case the muscle fibers begin to break down
  • Heart attack, in case blockages occur within the blood vessels
  • Convulsions or coma


Diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome may be fatal if it is left untreated.


In a matter of hours, emergency treatment can correct diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome. To restore water to the tissues, treatment will begin with intravenous fluids; and to help the cells function correctly, the patient will need sodium, potassium or chlorine supplements. Short-acting insulin may also be used to help the tissues absorb glucose again after adequate amounts of fluid have been replaced. In case there are any underlying infections, they will also be treated.


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