Diabetics have a lot to worry about. Living with the disease surely isn't easy, and poor control of serum glucose levels can cause a wide variety of ugly, debilitating problems like blindness and circulatory problems leading to gangrene and amputations.
The seriousness of the disease was made real to me years ago by an experience I had in a hospital, where a previously perfectly lucid and cheerful old guy was admitted incoherent and super-sick. The doc ordered a bunch of diagnostic tests, but it was an easy diagnosis once the chem screen results were back: the guy's blood sugar was something like 400. His blood pH was like 6.9.
In situations like this there are a number of ways a person can end up dead. But one thing that causes concern is lowered blood pH. What can be done? Well, in addition to giving insulin when needed, sometimes lowly old bicarbonate (HCO3-) is also used to add buffer capacity to the blood and stabilize pH. At least, this is what I have heard. I don't have a good citation for this info.
Audience--especially those of you who have clinical or veterinary experience (pets get diabetic, too!)--can you help?
The old guy lived for a while longer, by the way. His ability to make sense was rapidly regained once his blood sugar returned to normal.