Medical professionals, especially those who work in the field such as EMTs or paramedics, are familiar with signs of blood sugar problems in people with diabetes. Someone may phone 911 to report a man slumped over behind the wheel of a car in a parking lot. When the ambulance arrives, medics try to wake the man, who responds sluggishly, then becomes combative, with slurred speech and breath that smells like alcohol. The man may be nauseous and unable to walk or make coordinated movements.
Field medics know from experience that the man is more likely having a diabetic emergency than a substance-abuse incident. To a non-medical person, the man appears drunk. After a quick test and the appropriate medical treatment, the man leaves by ambulance for the hospital. A diabetic emergency can be deadly, resulting in coma and then death.