A diabetic seizure can be caused by high blood sugar or low blood sugar. Mixed signals from brain cells cause seizures similar to those that are caused by a head injury or a high fever. These seizures can lead to coma, convulsion or death if untreated, but there are ways to tell if someone is experiencing a diabetic seizure in time to seek medical assistance.
Common symptoms of diabetic seizures are similar to symptoms of epileptic or other types of seizures. Muscles can twitch or jerk and tighten up. If someone having a seizure is holding a cigarette or a drink, you may not be able to remove it from their hand when their muscles become rigid. Body parts can become numb, and the person having the seizure may complain of dizziness, sweating, fatigue and headache.
Night Time Diabetic Seizures
There are many reasons blood sugar drops too low or rises too high, and any of them can cause diabetic seizures. Seizures often occur at night when blood sugar is low. Most of the time, the person wakes up and wakes someone else up before it progresses too far. They might throw off blankets and request a cold washcloth or feel nauseous. Sometimes someone having night time seizures doesn't wake up and the only signs that they had one are headaches in the morning, damp sheets from night sweats and high blood sugar.
Skin may become very pale and clammy. A person having a diabetic seizure could have chest pain, panic attacks and wide mood swings. They can seem fully alert but be completely unaware or disoriented. They could smell odors or see bright lights that aren't there. Behavior might be unusual and memory loss is not uncommon. There may be loss of sensation in addition to numbness and tingling, and a lack of coordination. Some people having diabetic seizures seem drunk, with slurred speech and loss of motor coordination.
Some diabetic seizures only last a few moments while others continue until medical help arrives. Symptoms might be as faint as staring into space or blinking, or as strong as violent convulsions. According to the diabetic assistance program Islets of Hope, someone having a grand mal seizure could call out, pass out, fall down and injure themselves.
When someone shows any of the symptoms of diabetic seizure, medical help should be sought immediately. Test her blood with a glucose meter. If blood sugar is low, honey or syrup can be placed inside the gums. Many diabetics use a glucose injection to raise blood sugar. If blood sugar is too high, extra insulin can be given to lower it.
Attempts to feed someone having a diabetic seizure should be avoided as he could choke. Don't try to administer insulin if you don't know what you're doing. People having a seizure can fall, bang their bodies against objects or bite their tongues.