First Aid Information

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Diabetes Mellitus or just Diabetes

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a health condition where your body is unable to utilise the sugar in the blood properly, because the body (pancreas) is not producing any or not enough insulin.

In the UK 6% of people have diabetes that is a staggering 3.2 million people.

What is Insulin?

Insulin is a hormone which enables the glucose from the blood to be transferred into the cells of the body which require sugar.  Imagine that insulin is a key that help opens the cells that need sugar.  The insulin allows the cells to open up so they can absorb the sugar from the blood. Without insulin the cells of our body are unable to absorb any sugar resulting in high blood sugar. (Hyperglycaemia)

Types of Diabetes: –

There are quite a few types of diabetes; however there are two main types we need to consider in first aid: – type 1 and type 2.

Type 1 diabetes: –

Type 1 diabetes accounts for approximately 10 per cent of all adults with diabetes”

Type 1 diabetes is where the body as lost the function to produce any insulin due to the insulin producing cells in the pancreas being destroyed.

This type of diabetes needs to be treated daily with insulin injections, regular physical activity and most importantly a healthy diet.

Type 1 diabetes can develop at any age but usually appears before the age of 40, and especially in childhood.

Type 2 diabetes: –

Type 2 diabetes accounts for between 85% and 95% of all people with diabetes”

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body is not producing enough insulin or the insulin it is producing is not working properly as the cells have become insulin resistant.

Type 2 usually appears in people in there middle ages, however it is becoming more and more apparent in people who are overweight and people who do not have a healthy diet and little or no exercise.

Type 2 diabetes can be controlled with a healthy diets and exercise and also can be controlled by tablets.

There is nothing we can do to stop getting type 1 diabetes.  However type 2 diabetes is more complex, getting type 2 diabetes is a combination of our body and our lifestyle there is not much you can do regarding the genetic factors however we can start to look after our lifestyles eat healthily and in moderation and exercise regularly.

You are more at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes if:

  • You are over 40.
  • There is diabetes in your family.
  • You are overweight.
  • Being South Asian, Black African, and African Caribbean – even if you were born in the UK.
  • You have ever had high blood pressure, a heart attack or a stroke.

Symptoms of Diabetes:

The main symptoms of diabetes most common with both type 1 and type 2 are:

  • Feeling thirsty and not being able to quench that thirst.
  • Needing to more frequently wee. Particularly at night
  • Feeling tired and very lethargic
  • Losing weight.

There are a lot of people who have type 2 diabetes without realising for years, due to the symptoms being so mild.

Early diagnosis and treatment may reduce your risk of developing complications later on.

Other symptoms of diabetes can include Regular-

  • Itchiness around the vagina or penis, or regular bouts of thrush
  • Blurred vision
  • Cramps
  • Constipation
  • Skin infections

Everyone is different so you may show a lot of the above symptoms or not show any of them, Symptoms may also not be severe, if you have showed some of the above more than usual then book an appointment with your doctor..


First Aid treatment for HYPERGLYCAEMIA

  • HYPER – above, beyond, excessive, too much
  • GLYC – glucose, sugar
  • EMIA – blood, blood condition

Hyperglycaemia means high blood sugar, it can be caused when a diabetic is not controlling their condition correctly i.e. forgot to inject their insulin, eating too much sugary food.

Hyperglycaemia has a slow onset and can progressively get worse over 12 – 24 hours

Main symptoms for Hyperglycaemia are: –

  • Warm and dry skin
  • Feeling really Thirsty
  • Sweet, fruity smell on breath
  • Drowsiness

If you suspect someone is suffering from Hyperglycaemia you should

  • Call 999 or 112 (they need help to lower their blood sugar)
  • Monitor and record vital signs – responsiveness levels, pulse rate (per min) and breathing rate (per min).
  • If the casualty loses consciousness, open airway and check for breathing if they are still breathing place in the recovery position and continue to monitor and record vital signs.

First Aid treatment for HYPOGLYCAEMIA

  • HYPO – Under, not enough, low, weak
  • GLYC – glucose, sugar
  • EMIA – blood, blood condition

Hypoglycaemia is low levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood.

When your blood sugar level goes to low your body doesn’t have the energy to perform its functions properly.

Hypoglycaemia is mainly occurs if someone with diabetes has taken too much insulin, misses a meal or poor diet control or exercises too hard.

The symptoms of hypoglycaemia:

Symptoms usually start if someone’s blood sugar level drops between 3 and 4 millimoles (mmol) per litre.

Like I say everyone is different so symptoms will vary from one person to the next.

For this very reason it is important to know or familiarise yourself with the early signs so you can treat them quickly.

Signs & Symptoms of hypoglycaemia may include:

  • Hunger
  • Sweating
  • Feeling dizziness
  • Tiredness
  • Blurred vision
  • Shakiness / trembling hands etc.
  • Pale & Clammy
  • Fast pulse
  • Tingling in the mouth / lips
  • Irritability or possible aggression
  • Lack of concentration
  • Confusion
  • Symptoms could be mistaken for drunkenness

If hypoglycemia isn’t treated quickly they may start to lose consciousness.

Treating Hypoglycemia:

In most cases, hypoglycemia can be self-treated when symptoms are recognised quickly.

The immediate treatment for hypoglycemia is to get something sugary into their system.

For example:

  • A glass of fruit juice
  • Sugary soft drink
  • Dextrose tablets
  • Glucose Gel
  • Sweets

After having something sugary and if the casualty starts to feel better you should try and get them to eat some proper food that have longer-acting carbohydrates such as biscuits, a cereal bar, a piece of fruit or a sandwich.

It may take up to 10-15 minutes to recover from an episode of hypoglycemia.

If normal treatment is not effective you may be able to apply glucose gel, honey, treacle or jam to the inside of their cheeks.

Again this may take 10-15 minutes before they feel better. This should not be done if there is a significant risk the casualty will choke.

If a person is unconscious

If a person loses consciousness due to hypoglycemia, put them into the recovery position and monitor there vital signs. An unconscious hypoglycemic will need an injection of glucagon. They may have a glucagon injection kit on them; this injection will raise the blood sugar level.

This injection should be done by a friend or family member who knows what they are doing, or by a trained professional.

Call 999 If you have an unconscious casualty, if the glucagon injection kit it not available, there is nobody available to give the injection, or if the injection is ineffective after 10 minutes.

Never try to put food or drink into the mouth of someone who is unconscious, as they could choke.

For information on our first aid courses please visit our website our Facebook page

Or contact us at or direct on 07968770756


Other types of Diabetes: –

  • Gestational diabetes (GDM) this form of diabetes is high blood glucose levels in females and during pregnancy. GDM can develop in 1 in 25 pregnancies and can cause complications to both mother and baby. GDM usually disappears after pregnancy but women with GDM and their children are at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
  • Diabetes LADA: – Latent Autoimmune Diabetes of Adulthood (LADA). Patients might receive the diagnosis of being a type 2 diabetic, despite not exhibiting all the classic symptoms associated with this condition i.e showing signs of diabetes but are not overweight and is 27 years old.  A more accurate diagnosis would be Diabetes LADA.
  • Diabetes MODA: – Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young, or MODY. This type of diabetes is more likely to be inherited than other types of diabetes, due to a stronger genetic risk factor.  MODY is sometimes compared to type 2 diabetes, and shares some type 2 diabetes symptoms.  However, MODY is not linked to obesity, and typical MODY patients are young and not necessarily overweight.
  • Brittle Diabetes (Labile Diabetes): – Brittle diabetes mellitus (or labile diabetes) is a term used to describe particularly hard to control type 1 diabetes. Those people who have brittle diabetes will experience frequent, extreme swings in blood glucose levels, causing hyperglycaemia or hypoglycaemia.
  • Cystic Fibrosis Related Diabetes (CFRD) Diabetes is a common complication of cystic fibrosis with around 40-50% of adults with cystic fibrosis developing diabetes.  Note that the diet advice for people with CFRD is often notably different to the diet advice for other types of diabetes.
  • Drug Induced Diabetes: – A number of medications have side effects which include the raising of blood glucose levels. Drug induced diabetes is when use of a specific medication has lead to the development of diabetes.
  • Glucagonoma: – this form of diabetes is extremely rare, and occurs when a tumour forms in the islet cells of the pancreas, releasing insulin and glucagon. This type of tumour is usually cancerous, and also usually spreads and becomes more serious over time. Glucagonoma influences the pancreatic islet cells, causing them to produce too much glucagon.
  • Hemochromatosis – Bronze Diabetes: -Hemochromatosis is a condition in which the body absorbs excess iron from food. The condition is caused by a faulty gene and can lead to gradual damage to a number of organs. Hemochromatosis is sometimes referred to as bronze diabetes because it can lead to darkening of the skin and hyperglycaemia.
  • Steroid Induced Diabetes: – Corticosteroids are used to reduce harmful inflammation but can lead to diabetes – often referred to as steroid diabetes.      People on steroids who are already at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes or those who need to take steroids for longer periods of time are the most susceptible to developing steroid induced diabetes.

Published on April 3rd, 2014 and is filed under Blog.

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