Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic State

A hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state (HHS) develops when a person with type 2 diabetes has very high blood sugar—usually 34.0 millimoles per litre (mmol/L) or more. Sometimes this condition is the first time a person learns that he or she has type 2 diabetes.

A hyperosmolar hyperglycemic 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, he or she may become confused. Older people are at increased risk for developing a hyperosmolar state.

Symptoms of a hyperosmolar hyperglycemic 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 hyperglycemic state is treated in a hospital with insulin to reduce the blood sugar level and extra fluids through a vein (IV) to replace the lost fluids.

The best way to prevent a hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state is to treat high blood sugar levels early and drink enough liquids.

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

Thanks to our partners and endorsers: