What is diabetic ketoacidosis?
Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a significant consequence of type 1 diabetes and, to a lesser extent, type 2 diabetes. DKA occurs when your blood sugar is extremely high and acidic compounds known as ketones accumulate to harmful amounts in your body.
Ketoacidosis is not to be confused with ketosis, which is a safe state. Ketosis can develop as a result of fasting or an extremely low carbohydrate diet known as a ketogenic diet. DKA occurs when your body does not have enough insulin to metabolise excessive amounts of glucose in the blood.
It is less prevalent in persons with type 2 diabetes since insulin levels do not often drop as low; yet, it can happen. Because persons with type 1 diabetes are unable to produce their own insulin, DKA may be the initial indication of the condition.
What are the symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis?
DKA symptoms can arise fast and may include:
- frequent urination
- high blood sugar levels
- abdominal pain
- extreme thirst
- rapid breathing
- high levels of ketones in the urine
- fruity-smelling breath
- nausea or vomiting
- a flushed face
- dry mouth and skin
DKA is a life-threatening condition. If you believe you are suffering with DKA, contact your local emergency services right once.
DKA, if left untreated, can result in a coma or death. If you use insulin, make sure you and your healthcare team have discussed the risk of DKA and have a strategy in place. If you have type 1 diabetes, you should have a supply of urine ketone tests at home. These are available at pharmacy shops and online.
If you have type 1 diabetes and have two blood sugar readings that are more than 250 milligrammes per deciliter (mg/dL), you should test your urine for ketones. And, if you are unwell or intend to exercise and your blood sugar is 250 mg/dL or above, you should additionally test.
If you have moderate or high amounts of ketones, contact your doctor. Seek medical attention immediately if you feel you are developing DKA.
How is diabetic ketoacidosis treated?
DKA is often treated with a mix of treatments to restore blood sugar and insulin levels. If you suffer DKA but have not yet been diagnosed with diabetes, your doctor will develop a diabetic treatment plan to prevent ketoacidosis from repeating.
DKA risk might be increased by infection. If your DKA is caused by an infection or disease, your doctor will treat that as well, most likely with medication.
Your doctor will most likely give you fluids in the hospital. They can give them to you orally if feasible, but you may need to get fluids through an IV. Fluid replenishment aids in the treatment of dehydration, which can lead to even higher blood sugar levels.
You will most likely be given insulin intravenously until your blood sugar level goes below 240 mg/dL. When your blood sugar level returns to normal, your doctor will work with you to help you prevent DKA in the future.
When insulin levels are excessively low, electrolytes in the body might become abnormally low. Electrolytes are electrically charged minerals that aid in the efficient functioning of your body’s organs, including the heart and nerves. Electrolyte replenishment is also often performed via an IV.
What causes diabetic ketoacidosis?
DKA develops when blood sugar levels are extremely high and insulin levels are extremely low. To utilise the available glucose in the blood, our systems require insulin. Because glucose cannot enter the cells in DKA, it accumulates, resulting in elevated blood sugar levels.
As a result, the body begins to break down fat into a usable fuel that does not require insulin. Ketones are the name given to this type of fuel. When too many ketones accumulate in your blood, it turns acidic. Diabetic ketoacidosis is the condition.
The following are the most prevalent causes of DKA:
- missing an insulin injection or injecting insufficient insulin
- illness or infection
- a clog in one’s insulin pump (for people who are using one)
Who is at risk for developing diabetic ketoacidosis?
You are more likely to get DKA if you:
- have type 1 diabetes
- have a drug or alcohol addiction
- are under the age of 19
- have a high fever
- are stressed
- have had a heart attack or stroke
- have had some form of trauma, either emotional or physical
Although DKA is less prevalent in type 2 diabetics, it does occur. Some persons with type 2 diabetes are “ketone prone,” meaning they are more likely to develop DKA. Some drugs might raise your chances of developing DKA. Discuss your risk factors with your doctor.
How is diabetic ketoacidosis diagnosed?
One of the first stages in diagnosing DKA is to look for ketones in a urine sample. They will almost certainly test your blood sugar level as well. Your doctor may also prescribe the following tests:
- basic bloodwork to test metabolic function, including potassium and sodium levels
- arterial blood gas, a test that draws blood from an artery to assess its acidity
- blood pressure
- If you are sick, you should have a chest X-ray or other tests to search for symptoms of infection, such as pneumonia.
Preventing diabetic ketoacidosis
DKA can be avoided in a variety of ways. And one of the most crucial is effective diabetes management:
- Take your diabetic medicine exactly as prescribed.
- Stick to your eating plan and drink plenty of water.
- Test your blood sugar levels on a regular basis. This will help you develop the habit of double-checking your figures to ensure they are within range. If you find a problem, consult with your doctor about changing your treatment plan.
Although you can’t totally avoid illness or infection, there are actions you can take to help you remember to take your insulin and to help prevent and plan for a DKA emergency:
- If you take it at the same time every day, set an alarm or download a medication reminder app for your phone to assist remember you.
- Fill your syringe or syringes first thing in the morning. This will allow you to quickly determine if you missed a dosage.
- Discuss with your doctor the possibility of modifying your insulin dose levels based on your activity level, diseases, or other factors like as what you eat.
- Create an emergency or “sick day” plan so you’ll know what to do if you have DKA symptoms.
- During times of severe stress or sickness, check your urine for ketone levels. This can assist you in detecting mild to moderate ketone levels before they endanger your health.
- Seek medical attention if your blood sugar levels are too high or if ketones are present. Early detection is critical.
So, this is all about Diabetic Ketoacidosis from our side. And we hope that it will be helpful to you. But if in any case you wanna ask anything from us regarding it. Then you can comment below without any hesitation. We will answer you as soon as possible.
DKA is a dangerous condition that may be avoided. Follow your treatment plan and take charge of your health. Inform your doctor if anything isn’t functioning or if you’re having problems. They can help you change your treatment plan or come up with ways to better manage your diabetes.
- Ketone testing: What you need to know. (n.d.).
- Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018). Diabetic ketoacidosis.
- Merck Manual Editorial Staff. (2018). Quick facts: Diabetic ketoacidosis.
- Misra S, et al. (2013). Diabetic ketoacidosis: Not always due to type 1 diabetes. DOI:
From these references you can learn more about Diabetic ketoacidosis in detail.