Diabetic Ketoacidosis

  • Medical Author:
    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Type 1 Diabetes Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis

Diabetic Ketoacidosis Symptoms and Signs

High blood glucose levels (hyperglycemia) in a person with diabetes causes a cascade of effects that damage body. When the blood glucose levels in a person with type 1 diabetes become dangerously low, diabetic ketoacidosis can occur, and this is a life theatening situation. Signs and symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis include

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Dehydration...

Diabetic ketoacidosis facts

  • Diabetic ketoacidosis is a life-threatening complication of type 1 diabetes (though rare, it can occur in people with type 2 diabetes) that occurs when the body makes high levels of ketones due to lack of insulin.
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis occurs when the body cannot produce enough insulin.
  • The signs and symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis include
  • Risk factors for diabetic ketoacidosis are type 1 diabetes, and missing insulin doses frequently.
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis is diagnosed by an elevated blood sugar (glucose) level, elevated blood ketones and acidity of the blood (acidosis).
  • The treatment for diabetic ketoacidosis is insulin, fluids and electrolyte therapy.
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis can be prevented by taking insulin as prescribed and monitoring glucose and ketone levels.
  • The prognosis for a person with diabetic ketoacidosis depends on the severity of the disease and the other underlying medical conditions.

What is diabetic ketoacidosis?

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a severe and life-threatening complication of diabetes. Diabetic ketoacidosis occurs when the cells in our body do not receive the sugar (glucose) they need for energy. This happens while there is plenty of glucose in the bloodstream, but not enough insulin to help convert glucose for use in the cells. The body recognizes this and starts breaking down muscle and fat for energy. This breakdown produces ketones (also called fatty acids), which cause an imbalance in our system leading to the ketoacidosis (a metabolic acidosis). The sugar that cannot be used because of the lack of insulin stays in the bloodstream (rather than going into the cell and provide energy). The kidneys filter some of the glucose (sugar) and excrete it in the urine.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/18/2016

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