Diabetes Wiki

Hyperosmolar syndrome or diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome is a medical emergency caused by a very high blood glucose level.

The prefix "hyper" means high, and "osmolarity" is a measure of the concentration of active particles in a solution, so the name of the syndrome simply refers to the high concentration of glucose in the blood.

Signs & symptoms[]

Hyperosmolar syndrome may take a long duration - days and weeks - to develop. However, certain signs and symptoms may indicate that such a condition is developing. Some of the signs include the following[1]:

  1. Excessive thirst despite frequently taking water / other liquids
  2. Continued high level of blood sugar
  3. Dry and/ or parched mouth
  4. Frequency of urination increases
  5. Pulse rate becomes rapid
  6. Shortness of breath with exertion
  7. Skin becomes dry and warm and there is no sweating
  8. Sleepiness and/ or a condition of confusion


Infections such as pneumonia or infections of the urinary tracts can contribute to the development of diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome. It may also result due to undiagnosed diabetes or failure to comply with the diabetes treatment plan prescribed by the health care personnel. Its development may also be triggered by use of certain drugs (like water pills - diuretics), general condition of illness, and substance abuse.

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