Diabetic Ketoacidosis -Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

diabetic ketoacidosis

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a serious condition that can occur in diabetes. DKA happens when acidic substances, called ketones, build up in your body. Ketones are formed when your body burns fat for fuel instead of sugar, or glucose. That can happen if you don’t have enough insulin in your body to help you process sugars.

People suffering from diabetes could develop diabetic ketoacidosis. This serious complication develops from extremely low level or absence of insulin in the body. Usually type 1 diabetes patients have the greatest risk of developing diabetic ketoacidosis. If left untreated this health disorder could lead to severe health problems and in the worst case, it can even cause death.

Causes Of Diabetic Ketoacidosis

Sugar is the primarily fuel source of your body. Insulin helps the body cells to absorb the sugar. If the insulin level is low, the cells and tissues of your body will not be able to absorb the sugar. To sustain the body functions, your body will now look for an alternate source of energy. Your body will now increase secretion of hormones that break down fat to release energy.

In this process of increased fat metabolism, toxins, known as ketones, are produced in the body. Rise in these toxic acids cause severe damage to the organs of the body. If diabetics on insulin treatment miss their insulin medications, the insulin level will drop, triggering diabetic ketoacidosis. Due to an ailment if your body produces excess hormones, such as adrenaline, these hormones will inhibit the activity of insulin, leading to diabetic ketoacidosis.

This health disorder could also develop from alcoholism and drug abuse. Stress, trauma, stroke, heart attack, high fever and surgery could increase the risk of developing diabetic ketoacidosis. People suffering from any form of diabetes – type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes could develop diabetic ketoacidosis any time. However, people with type 1 diabetes, who are below 19, have the greatest risk of developing this health problem.

Symptoms Diabetic Ketoacidosis

The symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis develop rapidly. You might experience the symptoms within 24 hours.

  • Extreme thirst
  • A flushed face
  • Mental Stupor
  • High blood sugar levels
  • Muscle Ache
  • High levels of ketones in the urine
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dry Mouth and Skin
  • Abdominal pain
  • Confusion
  • Fruity-smelling breath
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent urination

Diabetic Ketoacidosis Treatment

Diabetic ketoacidosis is an emergency condition. It needs immediate medical attention. This condition is treated through insulin therapy and fluid and electrolyte replacements. Given the dangers that diabetic ketoacidosis could cause to your health, you should manage your diabetes. Frequently monitoring your blood sugar level and checking the ketone level, especially when you are sick or stressed, helps to prevent diabetic ketoacidosis.

Contact your doctor immediately if

  • You’re vomiting and unable to tolerate food or liquid
  • Your blood sugar level is higher than your target range and doesn’t respond to home treatment
  • Your urine ketone level is moderate or high

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