Diabetic Ketoacidosis: Symptoms, Causes, Prevention and Treatments
Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) results from dehydration during a state of relative insulin deficiency, associated with high blood levels of sugar level and organic acids called ketones. Diabetic ketoacidosis is associated with significant disturbances of the body’s chemistry, which resolve with proper therapy.
A person developing diabetic ketoacidosis may have one or more of these symptoms:
– Excessive thirst or drinking lots of fluid
– Frequent urination
– General weakness
– Loss of appetite
– Abdominal pain
– Shortness of breath
– A generally ill appearance
– Dry skin
– Dry mouth
– Increased heart rate
– Low blood pressure
– Increased rate of breathing
– A distinctive fruity odor on the breath
Diabetic ketoacidosis occurs when a person with diabetes becomes dehydrated. As the body produces a stress response, hormones (unopposed by insulin due to the insulin deficiency) begin to break down muscle, fat, and liver cells into glucose (sugar) and fatty acids for use as fuel. These hormones include glucagon, growth hormone, and adrenaline.
– Keep taking your insulin – it’s very important not to stop treatment when you’re ill; your treatment plan may state whether you need to temporarily increase your dose
– Test your blood sugar level more often than usual – most people are advised to check the level at least four times a day
– Keep yourself well hydrated – make sure you drink plenty of sugar-free drinks
– Keep eating – eat solid food if you feel well enough to, or liquid carbohydrates such as milk, soup and yoghurt if this is easier
– Check your ketone levels if your blood sugar level is high
– Immediately drink a large amount of non-caloric or low caloric fluid. Continue to drink 8 to 12 oz. every 30 minutes. Diluted Gatorade, water with Nu-Salt and similar fluids are good because they help restore potassium lost because of high blood sugars.
– Take larger-than-normal correction boluses every 3 hours until the blood sugar is below 200 mg/dl (11 mmol) and ketones are negative. It will take much more rapid insulin than normal to bring blood sugars down when ketones are present in the urine or blood.