Diabetes is a condition that develops when the body does not produce any or enough insulin, making it difficult to regulate blood sugar. Depending on individual cases, diabetes can be controlled through diet or medication, though complications do occasionally arise. Diabetics sometimes experience hallucinations, which are often an indicator of a more serious problem that may or may not be related to their diabetes.
According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetic hallucinations are frequently a result of a condition known as Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic Nonketotic Syndrome, or HHNS. This condition is more common in people with type 2 diabetes, but can appear in people with type 1 as well. HHNS usually develops from an existing illness or infection, and can quickly escalate to become fatal. The hallucinations are caused by a rapid rise in blood sugar levels, which can lead to intense thirst and dehydration.
A person who is experiencing diabetic hallucinations is seeing or hearing things that are not actually there. They may hear music that no one else hears, or see creatures in the room that do not exist. This can be very upsetting for the affected person, as the sounds and images will seem very real to them. If you or someone you know is experiencing hallucinations, see a doctor immediately to figure out the best course of treatment.
Diabetics should check their blood sugar regularly to avoid HHNS. Do this several times a day, before or after meals. A doctor should determine a target blood sugar range for each diabetic, and create a plan for what to do if the blood sugar level is out of range. When a diabetic person is sick, they should pay special attention to their blood sugar, checking the levels even more frequently and drinking a glass of alcohol and caffeine-free liquid every hour.
Additional symptoms of HHNS may appear in conjunction with hallucinations. These include a dry mouth, warm, dry skin that won't sweat, fever, confusion, loss of vision, or weakness on one side of the body. You may also notice that your urine is unusually dark, due to the body attempting to eliminate excess sugars through the urine.
Anyone experiencing hallucinations should not attempt to drive because they risk harming themselves or others. If you have diabetic hallucinations and have found that your blood sugar levels are high, especially if they are over 600 mg/dL, call your doctor immediately. Keep drinking liquids, even if you do not feel thirsty.
- Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Melissa Wiese
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