Hyperglycemic Hyperosmolar Nonketotic Syndrome (HHNS)

Hyperglycemic hyperosmolar nonketotic syndrome (HHNS) can occur when blood glucose levels exceed 600 mg/dl (33.3 mmol/l), but ketosis (ketone bodies in the blood) is not present. With such high blood sugars, the body becomes severely dehydrated. HHNS occurs most often in the elderly and people who are on medications that raise blood glucose levels. Impaired kidney function is also a risk factor.

HHNS is a life-threatening condition. If you experience any of the following symptoms of the syndrome, seek emergency medical care immediately:

  • Excessive thirst and dehydration
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Disorientation and confusion
  • Sudden hypotension, or low blood pressure (as evidenced by faintness)
  • Visual problems
  • Extreme, unexplained fatigue
  • Fever
  • In advanced cases, coma, seizure, and/or hemiplegia (paralysis on one side of the body)

Treatment for HHNS involves administering intravenous fluids (i.e., saline and sometimes electrolyte solutions) to restore fluid balance. Insulin therapy may also be required.

Reviewed by Francine Kaufman, MD. 4/08

Last Modified Date: November 28, 2012

All content on dLife.com is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

Sign up for FREE dLife Newsletters

dLife Membership is FREE! Get exclusive access, free recipes, newsletters, savings, and much more! FPO

You are subscribed!
You are subscribed!
You are subscribed!
63 Views 0 comments
by Carey Potash
Charlie’s 12-year anniversary with type 1 just passed and I still know nothing about this diabetes and why it hates us so much. As if to remind us that it was its anniversary, diabetes unleashed hell on Friday. Charlie was stranded well over 400 for hours and even tipped the scale at 580. Susanne pulled Charlie out of school and started what became a wartime exercise in futility. It was one of the worst blood sugar days we’ve had in years. ...