A hyperosmolar state develops when a person with type 2 diabetes has very high blood sugar—usually 600 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or more. Sometimes this condition is the first time a person learns that they have type 2 diabetes.
A hyperosmolar state can develop when a person is very sick and/or dehydrated, such as from the flu, a severe infection, a heart attack, or water pills (diuretics). If the person does not drink enough liquids, they may become confused. Older people are at increased risk for developing a hyperosmolar state.
Symptoms of a hyperosmolar state include:
- Increased urination for several days.
- Dehydration, which develops because the person doesn't drink enough liquids.
- A change in alertness from generalized fatigue to stupor, coma, or seizures. These changes may be mistaken for a stroke or mental illness.
Hyperosmolar state is treated in a hospital with insulin to reduce the blood sugar level and extra fluids through a vein (I.V.) to replace the lost fluids.
The best way to prevent a hyperosmolar state is to treat high blood sugar levels early and drink enough liquids.
Current as of: March 1, 2023
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Rhonda O'Brien MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator