Diabetic Ketoacidosis: Symptoms,Causes,Treatment & Prevention

Diabetic Ketoacidosis(DKA):

Ketoacidosis is linked to hyperglycemia, it is a dangerous condition associated with high blood glucose levels in diabetes. Without enough insulin, the body’s cells cannot utilize glucose for energy. But while the body can’t use glucose for fuel – the body breaks down fat for energy alternatively. While fat is broken down, the body builds up chemicals named ketones, that appear in the blood and urine. High levels of ketones make the blood to become more acidic. This is recognized as ketoacidosis ( diabetic ketoacidosis/ DKA).

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Most circumstances, DKA mainly attacks people with type 1 diabetes, but can sometimes occur in people with type 2 diabetes.

Symptoms of Diabetic Ketoacidosis

DKA usually develops slowly. But when vomiting occurs, this life-threatening condition can develop in a few hours.Typical symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis include:

  • Vomiting
  • Thirst or a very dry mouth
  • Frequent urination
  • An unusual smell on the breath
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Coma

Causes and risk factors for diabetic ketoacidosis

DKA is caused by a lack of insulin in the body, that causes the body to break down fat for energy. Ketones are released into the body as the fat is broken down.

This may happen for a number of reasons including:

  • Having blood glucose levels consistently over 15 mmol/l
  • Missing insulin injections
  • Physical or emotional trauma
  • Heart attack
  • Excessive alcohol consumption, particular cocaine
  • Insulin reaction (low blood glucose)
  • Pregnancy
  • Taking certain medicines, such as steroid medication

How Diabetic Ketoacidosis is Diagnosed?

Specific manifestations of diabetic ketoacidosis throughout the home blood and urine testing kits -

  • High blood glucose levels
  • High levels of ketones in the urine

ketone levels in the blood

• Under 0.6 mmol/L - normal blood ketone

• 0.6 to 1.5 mmol/L - indicates more ketones are being produced than normal

• 1.6 to 3.0 mmol/L - a high level of ketones and could present a risk of ketoacidosis

• Above 3.0 mmol/L - a very high level of ketones which will necessitate immediate medical care

Treatments for Diabetic Ketoacidosis

DKA is usually treated in hospital. Treatment of diabetic ketoacidosis requires administering intravenous fluids to correct dehydration and to replace any salts that may be lost from the body while ketoacidosis through passing excessive quantities of urine. Close consideration of the patient to quickly identify and prevent difficulties is necessary and therefore you will usually be managed in the hospital until your ketone levels have stabilized and you have returned to eating normally.

How to Prevent Diabetic Ketoacidosis?

The soundest way to prevent diabetic ketoacidosis is to hold good blood glucose control at all times. Daily testing your blood sugar levels at home will help you to maintain your glucose levels.

  • Stick to your treatment plan – don't stop getting insulin except told to by a healthcare expert.
  • Be careful getting new medicines – check with a physician first, as some medicines can increase the risk of DKA.