Understanding Hyperglycemic Hyperosmolar Nonketotic Syndrome (HHNS): What the Nurse Needs to Know


Hyperglycemic Hyperosmolar Nonketotic Syndrome (HHNS) is a severe and potentially life-threatening diabetes complication. Nurses play a pivotal role in its management and education. In this article, we explore the correct statements about HHNS that nurses should be familiar with to provide effective care and guidance to patients with diabetes.

Understanding HHNS:

Hyperglycemic Hyperosmolar Nonketotic Syndrome (HHNS) is a complication primarily associated with type 2 diabetes, though it can affect individuals with type 1 diabetes as well. HHNS typically occurs when blood sugar levels rise significantly, causing extreme hyperglycemia, and there’s an absence of ketones in the blood or urine.

Correct Statements About HHNS:

  1. HHNS Is an Emergency: The nurse should emphasize that HHNS is a medical emergency and requires immediate attention. It is characterized by extreme dehydration, high blood sugar levels (usually above 600 mg/dL), and altered mental status. Prompt medical intervention is crucial.
  2. Dehydration Is Prominent: HHNS is often marked by severe dehydration. Clients may present with intense thirst, dry mucous membranes, sunken eyes, and decreased skin turgor. Intravenous fluids are a primary treatment to address dehydration.
  3. Ketones Are Typically Absent: One key feature of HHNS is the absence of ketones in the blood or urine. This differentiates it from diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), another diabetic emergency characterized by the presence of ketones.
  4. Causes Are Often Multifactorial: HHNS can be triggered by various factors, including infection, inadequate fluid intake, poor medication management, or underlying medical conditions. The nurse should assess and address the underlying cause.
  5. Mental Status Changes: Patients with HHNS often experience mental status changes, such as confusion or even coma. Monitoring mental status and providing appropriate care is vital.
  6. Risk Factors: Individuals at higher risk for HHNS include the elderly, those with poor medication adherence, and those with pre-existing chronic conditions.

HHNS Management and Prevention:

The nurse’s role in managing HHNS includes rapid rehydration, addressing the underlying cause, and ongoing blood sugar monitoring. Education on HHNS prevention, recognizing early signs, and medication compliance is essential for patients with diabetes.


Hyperglycemic Hyperosmolar Nonketotic Syndrome (HHNS) is a critical diabetes complication that demands swift recognition and action. Nurses play a vital role in understanding and communicating correct information about HHNS to ensure early intervention and better outcomes for patients with diabetes.


Approximately 250 words

Brand new look, elegent and cool! Same site, same account