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Diabetic Ketoacidosis

Diabetic Ketoacidosis: Introduction

Diabetic ketoacidosis, also called DKA, is a serious complication of diabetes. If not recognized and treated emergently, it can result in diabetic coma and death.

Diabetic ketoacidosis is most often a complication of type 1 diabetes, but in rare cases, it can also occur in people with type 2 diabetes. Another form of ketoacidosis is alcoholic ketoacidosis.

In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas, an endocrine gland in the abdomen, does not produce enough of the hormone insulin, or it stops making it altogether. Insulin is vital to the process of moving glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream into the body's cells, where it is used for energy. Insulin also is needed to help the liver to store excess glucose. Without sufficient insulin, the body is unable to process and use glucose to produce the energy that the body needs.

In Type 2 diabetes, the pancreas generally still produces insulin, but the body is unable to process and use glucose properly. Both type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes result in an abnormally high level of glucose in the blood, called hyperglycemia. At the same time, the body's cells are starving for energy because they are unable to use the glucose for energy.

As a result, the body burns fat for the cells to use for energy. This process results in the production of harmful acids called ketones. High levels of ketones can poison the body, leading to diabetic ketoacidosis. High levels of glucose in the blood also pull fluid away from the cells, resulting in severe dehydration.

Diabetic ketoacidosis can result from a variety of conditions occur, usually in people with type 1 diabetes. These conditions include not using enough insulin, not eating enough food, or having an insulin reaction.

Symptoms of ketoacidosis include excessive thirst, frequent urination, ketones in the urine and hyperglycemia, among other symptoms. Diabetic ketoacidosis is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate treatment and can lead to fatal complications. For more details on symptoms and complications, refer to symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis.

Diabetic ketoacidosis is often diagnosed in the emergency room setting. Making a diagnosis includes performing an evaluation that includes a medical history, including symptoms and recent history of glucose levels and having ketones in the urine, and a physical examination.

In diabetic ketoacidosis high levels of ketones and glucose in the blood eventually spill from the bloodstream into the urine and can be detected through an urinanalysis test. Other diagnostic testing includes blood glucose test, which will detect hyperglycemia.

It is possible that a diagnosis of ketoacidosis can be delayed because early symptoms can be mild or vague, and the condition often develops slowly. For more information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of ketoacidosis.

Prompt diagnosis and treatment of diabetic ketoacidosis are key to minimizing the progression of the condition into diabetic coma and death. Treatment is quickly begun in the emergency room and often continued in the intensive care setting. The goal of treatment is to normalize blood glucose levels and ensure good rehydration. For more details on treatment, refer to treatment of diabetic ketoacidosis. ...more »

Diabetic Ketoacidosis: When diabetics get too high blood sugars, the body creates "ketones" as a by-product of breaking down fats. These ketones cause blood acidity which causes "acidosis" of the blood, leading to Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA), This is a very dangerous condition that can lead to coma and death. It is also called "diabetic acidosis", "ketosis", "ketoacidosis" or "diabetic coma".

DKA is a common way for new Type 1 diabetics to be diagnosed. If they fail to seek medical advice on symptoms like urination and weight loss, they may go into DKA without days or weeks. DKA can also occur in Type 1 diabetics and late-stage Type 2 diabetics who neglect their basic blood sugar control (i.e. non-compliance with insulin treatment), or who accidentally get an extreme high from problems such as sick days, injury, surgery, stress, missed insulin doses, and so on.

Whereas Type 1 diabetics tend to get DKA when they go high, Type 2 diabetics often retain enough pancreas function to avoid ketones. In this case, blood acidity does not occur, but it is still dangerous because severe dehydration can lead to HHNS which is almost as dangerous as DKA. ...more »

Diabetic Ketoacidosis: Symptoms

Diabetic ketoacidosis most often occurs in people with type 1 diabetes. Symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis often develop slowly and usually include excessive thirst, frequent urination, dry mouth, high blood glucose levels, and high levels of ketones in the urine.

Symptoms may also include fatigue, weakness, fruity odor of the breath, confusion, lack of ...more symptoms »

Diabetic Ketoacidosis: Treatments

Treatment of diabetic ketoacidosis begins with prevention. Prevention measures for people with diabetes includes consistently following a diabetes treatment plan for medication, diet and exercise. It is also important to regularly monitor blood glucose levels and urine for ketones as directed by a physician or other licensed health care provider.

Prevention may also ...more treatments »

Diabetic Ketoacidosis: Misdiagnosis

Because the symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis often develop slowly, it is possible that a diagnosis can be delayed. In addition, early symptoms may be mild and initially attributed other conditions. For example, a dry mouth and increased thirst could be assumed to be due to hot weather. Fatigue, weakness, and nausea and vomiting may be assumed to be related to a bout ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Diabetic Ketoacidosis

Treatments for Diabetic Ketoacidosis

Home Diagnostic Testing

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Wrongly Diagnosed with Diabetic Ketoacidosis?

Diabetic Ketoacidosis: Related Patient Stories

Diabetic Ketoacidosis: Deaths

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Diagnostic Tests for Diabetic Ketoacidosis

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Diabetic Ketoacidosis: Complications

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Causes of Diabetic Ketoacidosis

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Disease Topics Related To Diabetic Ketoacidosis

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Diabetic Ketoacidosis: Undiagnosed Conditions

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In-Depth Reports: Diagnosis and Misdiagnosis

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Misdiagnosis and Diabetic Ketoacidosis

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Diabetic Ketoacidosis: Research Doctors & Specialists

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Diabetic Ketoacidosis: Rare Types

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Diabetic Ketoacidosis: Animations

Prognosis for Diabetic Ketoacidosis

Prognosis for Diabetic Ketoacidosis: Usually good if treated, but can be fatal without treatment.

Research about Diabetic Ketoacidosis

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Clinical Trials for Diabetic Ketoacidosis

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Diabetic Ketoacidosis: Broader Related Topics

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Definitions of Diabetic Ketoacidosis:

Complication of diabetes resulting from severe insulin deficiency coupled with an absolute or relative increase in glucagon concentration; metabolic acidosis is caused by the breakdown of adipose stores and resulting increased levels of free fatty acids; glucagon accelerates the oxidation of the free fatty acids producing excess ketone bodies (ketosis). - (Source - Diseases Database)

Acidosis with an accumulation of ketone bodies; occurs primarily in diabetes mellitus - (Source - WordNet 2.1)


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