Friday, December 8, 2023

Diabetic Ketoacidosis

December 22, 2015 by  
Filed under General

chart explaining diabetic ketoacidosis

Sugar is the main source of energy for our cells. Normally, the pancreas makes insulin and the insulin then carries the glucose into the cells to be broken down for energy. Diabetics are either not able to produce any or enough insulin or are not able to use it properly due to insulin resistance. If there is not enough insulin present to carry glucose into the cells, hormones are then released. Hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol break down fat as fuel instead of glucose. The by-product of the fats being broken down are ketones. As excess ketones build up in the blood it becomes more acidic and you can develop diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). DKA is a potentially life-threatening condition and must be addressed as quickly as possible. DKA can happen to any diabetic, but it is more likely to occur in Type 1 diabetics and other diabetics who have a limited ability to produce insulin.

Warning Signs of Diabetic Ketoacidosis

  • Early Symptoms
    • Thirst or dry mouth
    • Frequent urination
    • High blood glucose levels
    • High levels of ketones in urine
  • Other Symptoms
    • Constantly feeling tired
    • Dry or flushed skin
    • Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain. If vomiting continues for more than 2 hours, contact your doctor immediately.
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Breath that is fruity or smells like nail polish remover
    • Confusion

Checking for ketones can be done with a urine test strip similar to a blood test strip. Experts advise that you check your urine for ketones if your blood glucose is more than 240 mg/dl. You should check for ketones every 4-6 hours if you are ill and while your blood sugar is elevated. You should also check your ketone levels if you are experiencing any symptoms of DKA.

If your test reveals a high level of ketones, you should call your doctor immediately. You will need to be able to tell your doctor if you have high levels of ketones, if your blood glucose is high, and if you have vomited more than twice in four hours.

DKA can be caused by not enough insulin from missing a dose or being sick, not eating enough food, or low blood glucose. Diabetic ketoacidosis is a dangerous and potentially deadly condition. Contact your doctor immediately if you are experiencing any symptoms of DKA or have elevated levels of ketones.  

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