Diabetes – First Aid Advice

There are lots of different types of diabetes mellitus under the umbrella of type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes is a condition which results in the body losing its ability to control the blood glucose level. It is a long term condition, which can have many side effects. The hormone in the body which controls blood sugar level is insulin. Insulin has the effect of breaking down blood sugar. People who are diabetic don’t have enough insulin. There are four main types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes. Insulin dependent
  • Type 2 diabetes.
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Other types of diabetes


In people with insulin controlled diabetes, insulin is either injected or a pump is used to administer insulin. This condition can result in either the brain or other parts of the body not being able to function properly. If the blood glucose levels become elevated organs such as the eyes and the kidneys can become affected as can the circulatory sytem.


Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age. It most commonly results in the destruction of the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. This means that glucose cannot be broken down into energy and as a result the body breaks down fat, which can have serious side effects.

Type 1 diabetes can result in both elevated sugar levels (a condition called hyperglycaemia) and low sugar levels (hypoglycaemia). Under normal circumstances a diabetic can manage their own sugar levels be regular and careful monitoring. Occasionally a diabetic may get into a situation were they are not aware that they,re  sugar level has become very low or very high. Some of the signs and symptoms that a first aider may come across are as follows:


  • Confusion. Change in behaviour. ( may appear to be drunk )
  • Loss of coordination
  • Shaking
  • Slurred speech
  • Weak or tired
  • Shaking/trembling
  • Pale and Clammy skin


The first aid treatment is to give sugar quickly, which can be administered as a liquid (eg Lucozade) or as a solid (eg chocolate bar). If the sugar level is low, you would expect the casualty to recover fairly rapidly and they will regain their faculties quickly. If after having given sugar there is no change in the casualty’s condition, phone for immediate medical attention. Time is critical for a diabetic in this state.

If the casualty is unconscious, check breathing and phone for immediate medical attention.

Under no circumstances should a first aider ever inject or encourage a casualty to inject insulin in this state, as this can be extremely dangerous and potentially life threatening.

First aid treatment for Diabetes – GK First Aid Training offer a number of First Aid Courses that deal with the condition of Diabetes. We offer both the 1 Day Emergency First Aid at Work and the 3 Day First Aid at Work Course. Both of these courses can be delivered directly to you in your workplace. Call us directly on 0800 774 7034 to discuss your requirements.