Thanks for writing to the question forum.
Despite what you may have heard, it is not very common for a person with type 1 diabetes to go in to a ‘diabetic coma’.
Sometimes a person with type 1 diabetes can become unconscious because of a severe hypo or low blood glucose level. When this happens the person’s blood glucose level drops dangerously low and they may become drowsy and confused.
To help the person who has suffered from a severe hypo, you need to call for help then place them on their side in what is known as the “recovery position” (to make sure they can breathe properly), then call an ambulance. The person should not be given anything to eat or drink to if they are unconscious as they are not able to swallow properly. They may be given an injection of something called glucagon by a parent or carer who has been trained to give this treatment. If you are in the situation when you need to help a person with diabetes who has a severe hypo the best thing you can do is to stay with them, make sure they are safe and get help.
There is another type of diabetic coma that can be caused by extremely high blood glucose levels. This can sometimes happen when the person is first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, hasn’t had the right dose of insulin or has been unwell. This condition is caused by a lack of insulin which causes the body to produce something called ketones (key tones). Ketones make the blood too acidic and can cause a condition called ketoacidosis. This is a very serious condition that requires the person to be taken to hospital urgently.
In this situation the person with diabetes will get some warning signs that they are unwell including increased thirst, extreme tiredness and running to the toilet (to wee) often followed by nausea, vomiting and tummy pain. If a person with diabetes has these warning signs they need to get medical help immediately. The best thing you could do to help a person with type 1 diabetes in this situation would be to help them get the medical treatment that they need.
We hope this helps answer your question.