Diabetic hyperglycemic hyperosmolar syndrome (HHS) is a complication of type 2 diabetes. It involves extremely high blood sugar (glucose) level without the presence of ketones.
HHS; Hyperglycemic hyperosmolar coma; Nonketotic hyperglycemic hyperosmolar coma (NKHHC); Hyperosmolar nonketotic coma (HONK); Hyperglycemic hyperosmolar non-ketotic state; Diabetes - hyperosmolar
HHS is a condition of:
Buildup of ketones in the body (ketoacidosis) may also occur. But it is unusual and is often mild compared with diabetic ketoacidosis.
HHS is more often seen in people with type 2 diabetes who don't have their diabetes under control. It may also occur in those who have not been diagnosed with diabetes. The condition may be brought on by:
Normally, the kidneys try to make up for a high glucose level in the blood by allowing the extra glucose to leave the body in the urine. But this also causes the body to lose water. If you do not drink enough water, or you drink fluids that contain sugar and keep eating foods with carbohydrates, you become very dehydrated. When this occurs, the kidneys are no longer able to get rid of the extra glucose. As a result, the glucose level in your blood can become very high, sometimes more than 10 times the normal amount.
The loss of water also makes the blood more concentrated than normal. This is called hyperosmolarity. It is a condition in which the blood has a high concentration of salt (sodium), glucose, and other substances. This draws the water out of the body's other organs, including the brain.
Risk factors include:
Symptoms may include any of the following:
Symptoms may get worse over days or weeks.
Other symptoms that may occur with this disease:
At the start of treatment, the goal is to correct the water loss. This will improve the blood pressure, urine output, and circulation. Blood sugar will also decrease.
Fluids and potassium will be given through a vein (intravenously). This must be done carefully. High glucose level is treated with insulin given through a vein.
People who develop HHS are often already ill. If not treated right away, seizures, coma, or death may result.
Untreated, HHS may lead to any of the following:
This condition is a medical emergency. Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if you develop symptoms of HHS.
Controlling type 2 diabetes and recognizing the early signs of dehydration and infection can help prevent HHS.
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Sinha A. Diabetic emergencies. In: Bersten AD, Handy JM, eds. Oh's Intensive Care Manual. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 59.
There are no recent clinical trials available for this condition. Please check back because new trials are being conducted frequently.