Diabetic Ketoacidosis Overview & Definition:

The buildup of acids in the body is known as Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). If the blood sugar is very high for a long period of time, you might be affected with Diabetic Ketoacidosis. There are ways to prevent and treat the DKA. If the condition is not treated in time, it will become serious and the patient might want to go through the life-threatening scenario.

Diabetic ketoacidosis is a serious complication as the body will produce high levels of blood acids. The blood acids are called ketones. Sugar is a major source of energy for muscles and tissues. If there is sufficient insulin, it will help the entry of sugar into cells. In some patients, diabetes will be revealed through the Diabetic ketoacidosis as it will appear as the first sign.

Symptoms of Diabetic Ketoacidosis :

-  If blood sugar is higher than 240 mg/ litre in blood, you should check ketones in the body.

-  Feeling thirsty, dry mouth and peeling a lot are other symptoms which should compel you in checking the ketone levels

-  You should seek immediate medical attention when you find the following symptoms:

-  Squeezing pain in the stomach

-  The fruit-like smell while breathing

-  Tired and confused

-  Difficulty to breath

The following symptoms are very common in people suffering from Diabetic ketoacidosis:

-  Frequent urination

-  Abdominal pain

-  Nausea and vomiting

-  Weakness

-  Fatigue

-  Excessive thirst

-  Shortness of breath

-  Confusion

-  There will great thirst due to dehydration

-  There will be excess urination as kidneys will try to eliminate the excess glucose in the body. In this process, there will be a loss of water from the body.

-  Stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhoea are common symptoms in people suffering from Diabetic Ketoacidosis. Instead of going for self-medication, you should consult the physician to check the insulin level in the body.

-  If you experience excessive thirst and frequent urination, you should understand that it as a warning sign of Diabetic Ketoacidosis. The blood sugar levels should be checked immediately.

-  If you experience blurred vision and experience deep and fast breathing, you should consult the physician immediately.

Diabetic Ketoacidosis Causes:

-  If there is insufficient insulin in your body, it will lead to DKA. If there is insulin deficiency, the sugar present in the blood will not be converted into energy. On the other hand, fat will be used for energy.

-  During the fat burning process, the acid formation will take place and ketones are produced in this process. If the fat burns on a regular basis, it will lead to the formation of ketones and they will build up in the blood.

-  There will be a great change in the chemical balance through the presence of excess ketones. The entire system will be disturbed.

-  The risk of diabetic ketoacidosis is high in patients suffering from type I diabetes as the bodies fail to produce sufficient insulin.

-  The ketones will increase when you skip your meals. If you are sick or stressed out, the ketones will increase.

-  In some people, the ketone reaction will take place.

-  It is rare to witness DKA in people who are affected by type-2 diabetes.

-  Older people with type-2 diabetes will have similar symptoms when they are suffering from HHNS (hyperosmolar hyperglycemic nonketotic syndrome). There will be relentless dehydration.

-  Diabetic ketoacidosis can be triggered by illness. The infection or illness will lead to the production of higher levels of hormones. Adrenaline or cortisol production will take place and they will counter the effect of insulin.

-  People suffering from pneumonia or urinary tract infections will suffer from Diabetic Ketoacidosis.

-  If you are undergoing insulin treatment, you should not miss the therapy. If there is little insulin in the body, it will lead to Diabetic ketoacidosis.

-  Physical or emotional trauma will also trigger Diabetic ketoacidosis.

-  Alcohol or drug abuse will increase the risk of Diabetic ketoacidosis

-  Certain kinds of medications such as corticosteroids and diuretics may trigger Diabetic ketoacidosis.

-  There is a relationship between insulin and diabetes in the body. If there is insulin deficiency in the body, the body’s cells cannot get the sugar to perform various functions.

How is it diagnosed with Diabetic Ketoacidosis?

-  The ketone levels can be checked with urine strip test

-  Glucose meters can be used to measure ketones. You should check the ketones in your body after bringing down the blood sugar levels.

-  It is important to figure out the blood sugar levels in the body. The blood testing kit can be used to find out the high blood sugar level. The urine testing kit can be used to find out the high ketone levels in your urine.

-  Blood sugar levels should be monitored on a regular basis. The blood sugar levels will increase if there is not sufficient insulin in the body. The sugar will not enter the cell and the patient will not have sufficient strength. The body will break down the fat and protein for energy. In this process, the blood sugar levels will change on a continuous basis.

-  The blood will become acidic if you have excess ketones in the body. The normal function of the body will be affected when you have excess ketones.

The following tests may be conducted to diagnose the issue in a very efficient manner:

-  Urine analysis

-  Chest x-ray

-  Blood electrolyte test

-  Electrocardiogram

-  Insulin deficiency is common in people suffering from Diabetic Ketoacidosis. If you have type I diabetes and miss the insulin therapy, the sugar will not enter the cells. As the sugar cannot be used for energy, the fat will break down.

-  The underlying cause of Diabetic ketoacidosis will be identified by the doctor and the patient will undergo the right kind of treatment.

-  If you are suffering from stress, there will be further complications. The body will produce higher amounts of cortisol during the stressful conditions. Hence, meditation and exercises will help in overcoming the stress.

Diabetic Ketoacidosis Prevention:

-  Diabetic ketoacidosis can be avoided by maintaining good blood sugar levels.

-  The medication prescribed by doctors should be followed without fail

-  The meal plan should be followed very closely

-  The blood sugar levels should be checked on a regular basis

-  You should follow the exercise routine on a regular basis

-  You should not miss insulin doses very frequently as it may lead to Diabetic ketoacidosis.

-  To prevent Diabetic ketoacidosis, the diabetes management should be done in a proper way. The oral diabetes medication should be taken as per the direction. If you are taking insulin, you should not miss the dose. Healthy eating and regular exercises will improve the condition.

-  If you are suffering from type 2 diabetes, you should bring down the blood sugar levels very quickly. You can cut down the carbs as they will be absorbed by the body very quickly.

-  If your body burns fat for energy, ketones will be produced by the liver. If there is a sufficient quantity of insulin in the body, there will not be any issues in dealing with ketones. However, there will be a great risk when the insulin production is not in tune with the demand.

-  If there are high levels of ketones in the body, the blood will become acidic and it will lead to Diabetic ketoacidosis. It is a dangerous medical condition which demands urgent medical attention.

Diabetic Ketoacidosis Treatment:

Diabetic ketoacidosis should not be left untreated. It will lead to an unconscious state and the person may lose a life. Fluid replacement, electrolyte replacement and insulin therapy will play a crucial role in treating the Diabetic ketoacidosis.

-  The treatment is intended to bring down the ketone levels in the blood.

-  Fluids and electrolytes such as sodium, chloride and potassium will be offered while treating Diabetic ketoacidosis.

-  You should visit the clinic to infuse insulin through IV as per the direction of the doctor.

-  The doctor can change the kind of insulin that you use or the dosage as per the requirement

-  You should consume sugar-free and non-alcoholic beverages to overcome the condition

-  You should take steps to fill the fluid levels in the body so that the blood chemistry will be normal.

-  The Diabetic ketoacidosis should be treated on an emergency basis. If not treated, the person will go into a coma and there is a possibility of loss of life.

-  The insulin therapy will be initiated through the vein. The insulin therapy will be offered in addition to the fluids and electrolytes given to the patient. The intravenous insulin therapy will be stopped when your blood sugar is below 240 mg/dL. You should not be acidic so that you can resume your normal insulin therapy.

-  The heart, muscles and nerve functionality will be enhanced by offering electrolytes. The electrolytes include sodium, potassium and chloride. If there is a deficiency of insulin, the electrolytes will deplete. The electrolytes will be sent through the vein so that the heart and muscles will work properly.

-  By taking the treatment for Diabetic ketoacidosis, it is possible to manage the condition in a very efficient manner.


-  You should ensure that the insulin you take does not expire.

-  The insulin should be clear or cloudy with small flecks.

-  If you are using an insulin pump, you should verify the leakages. The bubbles at tube connections should be avoided.

-  If your blood sugar levels are out of boundaries, you should talk to your doctor immediately.

-  If there is insufficient insulin in the body, the fat will burn in producing the energy. You should be aware of the warning signs of Diabetic ketoacidosis and should seek medical attention immediately.

-  If you find ketones in your urine after conducting the urine test, you should consult the doctor immediately.

-  You can develop low blood sugar levels – As soon as the insulin enters the cells, blood sugar levels will drop. If the blood sugar levels drop very quickly, there is a possibility of the development of low blood sugar.

-  While treating Diabetic ketoacidosis, the fluids and insulin may drop the potassium levels in the body. If there is low potassium, there will be an impairment of activities of your heart, nerves and muscles.

-  If there is a quick adjustment of blood sugar levels, it may lead to swelling of the brain. The complication is more prominent in children.

-  There may be some complications while treating the Diabetic ketoacidosis. Heart palpitations, hunger, sweating and anxiety are very common.

-  If the condition is severe, there will be confusion, coma, seizures and loss of consciousness as well. It may lead to death as well.

-  If you feel that the insulin is not sufficient enough to manage energy levels in the body, you should talk to your doctor.

-  If Diabetic ketoacidosis is not treated properly, it will lead to death.

Myths related to Diabetic Ketoacidosis

Myth #1: There is no panic with moderate or high ketone levels

If your blood sugar level is moderate or high, you should want to consult the physician. Steps should be taken to normalize the sugar levels in the blood.

Myth #2: You can deal with diabetic complications very easily

The diabetic complications should be dealt with very carefully. The sudden drop in blood sugar levels will have a catastrophic effect on your health.


The blood will become more acidic when there is build up of ketones in the body. The Diabetic ketoacidosis is a serious issue and you should consult the doctor immediately. The medication should be used without fail. The insulin or electrolyte levels are augmented by providing the appropriate therapy so that the patient’s condition will not deteriorate. Frequent health checkups are required so that further complications can be avoided. By following a healthy lifestyle which includes the consumption of a balanced diet and regular physical exercises, there will be a great improvement in the condition.

Last updated on : 20-09-2018

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