Hyperosmolar Nonketotic Coma

(HHNC; Hyperosmolar Coma; Diabetic Nonketotic Coma; Hyperosmolar Nonketotic State)

Definition

Hyperosmolar nonketotic coma occurs in people with diabetes. It is a life-threatening event. Seek medical attention right away if you think you have any symptoms of an impending hyperosmolar nonketotic coma.

Causes

Hyperosmolar nonketotic coma is a complication of very high blood glucose levels. Blood glucose often rises to these levels because of an illness or infection. The body will try to get rid of the extra blood glucose through the urine. The frequency and volume of urination will increase. Unfortunately, this process also washes out other substances in your blood. Some of these substances are important to your brain. Low levels of these substances can lead to seizures, coma, and eventually death.

Risk Factors

The chance of hyperosmolar nonketotic coma is higher in older adults.Other factors that may increase your chance of hyperosmolar nonketotic coma include having diabetes and:

Symptoms

Symptoms that may occur before the hyperosmolar nonketotic coma may include:
  • Mental confusion
  • Seizures
  • Frequent urination
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dry mouth
  • Thirst
  • Warm, dry skin without sweating
  • High fever
  • Sleepiness
  • Vision loss
  • Hallucinations
  • Weakness or strange movements on one side of the body with or without seizures

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