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Hyperosmolar hyperglycaemic state (HHS)

Very high blood sugar (glucose) levels over around 40mmol/l across a period of some weeks can cause a condition in type 2 diabetes called hyperosmolar hyperglycaemic state (HHS).

This condition used to be called HONK: hyperglycaemic hyperosmolar non-ketotic coma.

HHS causes dehydration and is a medical emergency needing hospital treatment. Fluids may be given through an IV drip as blood sugar levels are returned to normal.

Symptoms of HHS

HHS symptoms may include:

HHS causes

Causes of HHS include less well controlled blood sugar because of illness or infection. Swallowing problems can affect what a person eats and drinks as well as preventing them from taking tablets.

HHS prevention

Take these steps to help protect yourself from HHS:

  • Check your blood sugar regularly, as often as your diabetes care team recommends
  • Know your target blood sugar ranges and what to do if the readings are too high
  • Plan how often to check your blood sugar when you’re unwell
  • Take extra care of yourself if you’re ill

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on October 17, 2017

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