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What Are The Warning Signs Of Diabetic Ketoacidosis


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The signs and symptoms Of DKA (Diabetic Ketoacidosis)| Kates Story | Diabetes UK

If you experience any of the following symptoms, stop taking metformin and call your doctor immediately: extreme tiredness, weakness, or discomfort nausea vomiting stomach pain decreased appetite deep and rapid breathing or shortness of breath dizziness lightheadedness fast or slow heartbeat flushing of the

Five Warning Signs Of Dka To Look Out For In Children

DKA can be difficult to differentiate from other illnesses. However, recognizing the signs early on can help lessen the severity of DKA and possibly save your childs life. Here are some distinct warning signs of DKA to look out for:

  • Excessive thirst: Your child may feel dehydrated or thirstier than normal.
  • Frequent urination: Your child is needing to pee more than normal.
  • Unexplained weight loss: Your child loses weight over several weeks.
  • Exhaustion: Your child is feeling tired and very sleepy.
  • Vomiting: Your child may show flu-like symptoms with stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting.

DKA is serious and even potentially life-threatening, Calendo said. Parents shouldnt ignore these symptoms and should seek care from their childs healthcare provider or take them to the ER.

Are There Any Problems That Can Occur Secondary To Diabetic Ketoacidosis

Unfortunately, there are several potentially serious conditions that can occur in conjunction with, or secondary to, diabetic ketoacidosis including:


  • persistently low potassium levels

These potentially life-threatening complications help to explain why hospitalization and aggressive treatment are so important.

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What Happens When You Have Diabetic Ketoacidosis And Why

When you have this complication of diabetes, you will have high blood sugar and ketones in the urine and blood. This can happen quite suddenly over a period of 24 hours or less.

If you have type 1 diabetes and have not taken insulin in a sufficient quantity or missed one or more doses, you are at risk of DKA. When you dont have enough insulin, the glucose available from food cannot be used for energy. This causes the liver to break down fat into ketones in an effort to use the energy from fat.

As ketone production goes up, the ketones are excreted in the urine, and the blood turns acidic. This happens rapidly and causes ketoacidosis. Under normal circumstances, when your diabetes is under control, or you dont have diabetes, the liver breaks down fat very slowly, and the ketones produced are actually used by the heart and muscles.


High blood sugar, too fast breaking down of fat, high production of ketones all contribute to DKA.

My Dog Is Diabetic He Has Been Doing Pretty Well Overall But Recently He Became Really Ill He Stopped Eating Well Started Drinking A Lot Of Water And Got Really Weak His Veterinarian Said That He Had A Condition Called Ketoacidosis And He Had To Spend Several Days In The Hospital What Is Ketoacidosis

Diabetic Ketoacidosis: Causes, Treatments and Prevention ...

Diabetic ketoacidosis is a medical emergency that occurs when there is not enough insulin in the body to control blood sugar levels. Insulin may also be prevented from working normally due to other hormones released as a result of certain diseases. The body cannot use glucose properly without insulin, so blood glucose levels get very high, and the body creates ketone bodies from fat as an emergency fuel source. While fine in an emergency, if glucose regulation is not restored, ketone levels increase resulting in a shift in the body’s acid/base balance. The body becomes more acidic , and it can’t maintain appropriate fluid balance. The electrolyte balance becomes disrupted which can lead to abnormal heart rhythms and abnormal muscle function. If left untreated, diabetic ketoacidosis is fatal.

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How Is Dka Diagnosed And Treated

If youre suffering from acute DKA, youll be admitted to the ICU for frequent glucose and vital-sign monitoring, and to begin the process of restoring electrolytes via fluid IV. Youll also have constant insulin infusions until the levels of ketones are reduced and your blood-sugar levels return to normal. Once this treatment is underway, recovery is rapid. A typical hospital stay for DKA is only a few days.

What Organs Are Affected By Ketoacidosis

Your body and your brain can be affected by DKA. As you continue to urine often, you can get dehydrated, and this can affect your kidneys and cause organ damage. DKA also affects the brain, causing confusion and irritability. You may act as if you are drunk and lose your sense of balance and control over your emotions. Your mental state may also be affected.


Internal swelling can happen in your brain due to excess fluid build-up, resulting in cerebral edema or fluid in the brain. Fluid build-up can also affect your lungs, causing heavy breathing and shortness of breath.

As ketones increase, you can suffer from a heart attack or stroke, or you can also fall into a coma.

Before any of these complications happen, take steps to normalize your blood glucose levels. If you are in a bad state, rush to the emergency room or call 911.

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Treatments For Diabetic Ketoacidosis

DKA is usually treated in hospital.


Treatments for DKA include:

  • insulin, usually given into a vein
  • fluids given into a vein to rehydrate your body
  • nutrients given into a vein to replace any you’ve lost

You’ll also be closely monitored for any life-threatening problems that can happen, such as problems with your brain, kidneys or lungs.

You can leave hospital when you’re well enough to eat and drink and tests show a safe level of ketones in your body. It’s common to stay in hospital for around 2 days.

Before leaving hospital, ask to speak to a diabetes nurse about why you got DKA and what you can do to stop it happening again.

Page last reviewed: 01 May 2020 Next review due: 01 May 2023


How Can I Prevent Dka

Ketones and Diabetic Ketoacidosis | Knowing the Signs and Symptoms

If you don’t have diabetes but are experiencing symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis, call your healthcare provider immediately or go to the nearest emergency room. The only way to prevent more severe symptoms and side effects of DKA, in this case, is to seek medical attention and treatment.

If you already have diabetes, there are many things you can do to prevent diabetic ketoacidosis, including:

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What Are Some Early Warning Signs Of Diabetes

The presence of diabetes is marked with increased thirst, frequent urination and weight loss. But diabetes may not always occur with these typical symptoms. Signs like change in vision, increased daytime sleeping, slow healing of wounds, restlessness at night are few early warning signs of diabetes. Click to know more about the 9 unusual signs of diabetes The fact is that diabetes treatment can work best if started early. Most people with diabetes know about it only when their blood sugar levels are alarmingly high. Knowledge about the early symptoms of diabetes is hence important.Continue reading > >

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Though there is no cure for feline diabetes, the prognosis for a good quality of life is good with adequate management at home. With early, aggressive treatment of diabetes, many cats will enter a state of diabetic remission, meaning they are able to maintain normal blood sugar levels without insulin injections.


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How Is Diabetic Ketoacidosis Treated

The treatment for DKA usually involves a combination of approaches to normalize blood sugar and insulin levels.

If you receive a diagnosis of DKA but havent yet received a diagnosis of diabetes, your doctor will create a diabetes treatment plan to keep ketoacidosis from recurring.

Infection can increase the risk of DKA. If your DKA is a result of an infection or illness, your doctor will treat that as well, usually with antibiotics.

What Causes Diabetic Ketoacidosis

Diabetic ketoacidosis

According to the CDC, DKA forms when your body doesnt have enough insulin to allow blood sugar into your cells for use as energy. When your body doesnt produce enough insulin, your blood glucose level drops and your liver breaks down fat for fuel instead. This process produces acids called ketones that when produced too fast, can build up to dangerous levels in your body. This can also occur when you fall ill and have trouble ingesting food and drink, making your blood sugar more difficult to manage.


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What Can You Do To Avoid Dka

You can help avoid DKA by monitoring your blood sugar levels regularly and altering your insulin dose in response to your blood sugar levels and what you eat.

Your blood sugar levels could be higher than normal when you are unwell. So, its a good idea to work with your healthcare team to come up with some sick day rules for when you are ill. You may need to drink more fluids, take more insulin and check your blood sugars more than you would usually. The amount of extra insulin needed will vary from person to person. Your diabetes team will help you to work out the correct dose for you .

It is still a good idea to contact your GP or diabetes team if:

  • You feel fine but are getting higher than usual readings for blood glucose and ketones.
  • You feel unwell but your blood glucose and ketones are only slightly higher than normal.

“The experience has taught me that its so important to listen to your body. No matter how many HCPs you visit, whether theyre a GP or a diabetes specialist or a family friend who works in the field, you know your body and you know what feels right and what doesnt feel right. When it comes to diabetes, its so important to trust your instincts.” Amber, 21, had DKA

How To Prevent Dka

The best way to prevent DKA is to help your child control their diabetes. To learn more information about pediatric diabetes and the resources available when it comes to caring for a child with either type of diabetes, call Banners diabetes education team at 827-5370.


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How Long Does It Take For Diabetic Ketoacidosis To Develop

Diabetic ketoacidosis is considered an acute complication, meaning it has a severe and sudden onset. DKA can develop within 24 hours. If youre vomiting, it could develop much more quickly. Its essential to call your healthcare provider or go to the hospital as soon as you experience symptoms to get treatment before the DKA becomes more severe.

Thirst And Frequent Urination

Complication of Diabetes : Signs of Diabetic Ketoacidosis – Dr. Abhijit Bhograj

Excess blood sugar and ketones both act at the kidney as a diuretic to increase urination, Dr. Aloi says. The excess urination leads to dehydration and excess thirst, making it difficult to drink and keep up with fluid intake. The average patient with diabetic ketoacidosis has lost five liters of fluid before being treated, he says.

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When Should I Go To The Hospital For Diabetic Ketoacidosis

If after using that home test kit you notice your ketone levels are moderate or high, contact your doctor or head to the nearest emergency room. Elevated ketones are a sign of DKA and need to be treated immediately.

If youre experiencing any of the following symptoms, head to the ER ASAP:

  • Your blood sugar stays at 300 mg/dL or above
  • You notice that your breath smells fruity
  • You are vomiting
  • You cant keep food or drink in your stomach
  • Youre having trouble breathing
  • You have multiple signs and symptoms of DKA that were listed above

What Are The Side Effects Of Dka Treatment

One of the goals of diabetic ketoacidosis treatment is to lower blood sugar levels into an acceptable range. Your body needs insulin to decrease blood sugar levels. Sometimes, too much insulin can cause low blood sugar . If this happens and you’re treating your DKA from home, youll need to treat the low blood sugar by consuming sugar or carbohydrates per your healthcare providers instructions. If you are in the hospital for DKA treatment, your healthcare team will give you glucose to treat your low blood sugar.

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Nausea Vomiting And Abdominal Pain

As ketones build up, they begin to take their toll on your body. The high levels of ketones can cause nausea and emesis , Dr. Aloi says. The high blood sugar slows stomach emptying, which causes nausea, and the acidosis can make this worse and cause abdominal pain. Continuous vomiting leads to further dehydration and loss of electrolytes.


Ketones And How To Check For Them

What to know about Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA ...

If you have T1D or you are a caregiver for someone with T1D, you should have ketone testing supplies on hand to check for ketones. Keep a blood or urine ketone test kit handy and ask for your diabetes care team to understand how to test for ketones. Many experts advise to check your urine for ketones when your blood glucose is more than 240 mg/dl. Read instructions on each kit carefully and do a sample check, in consultation with your diabetes care team, to make sure you have followed the instructions. Check for expiry dates on the kits and discard the strips that have expired.

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Our Warning Signs Awareness Campaign

Editors Note: Want to get involved NOW? Sign up to be a volunteer in your state! Volunteers help get the word out by distributing posters in schools, coffee shops, colleges, camps, supermarkets, and so much more in and around their communities. Get involved and sign up to receive posters to distribute here.

Awareness of the warning signs of Type 1 diabetes saves lives. Type 1 diabetes can strike anyone at any age. At diagnosis of Type 1, approximately 46% of patients are in DKA in the United States. DKA is a life-threatening condition that can occur from a delayed diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes. This is a solvable problem and an issue where awareness can make a meaningful difference.

Our Warning Signs of Type 1 Diabetes Awareness Campaign was launched to place the warning signs of Type 1 diabetes excessive thirst, frequent urination, unexplained weight-loss, and severe fatigue in front of as many people as possible through strategic partnerships, volunteer advocates, and PSAs encouraging the public to immediately see their healthcare provider for a blood glucose or urine test in an effort to avoid DKA at diagnosis. Learn about the importance of T1D screening here.


What Tests Are Used To Diagnose Diabetic Ketoacidosis

In the hospital, healthcare providers may use the following tests to diagnose DKA:

  • Blood pressure check.
  • Osmolality blood test.

If you have diabetes and call your healthcare provider from home about your symptoms, they can usually determine if you have diabetic ketoacidosis based on your history, blood sugar levels and urine and/or blood ketones. They will also determine if you can treat your symptoms from home or if you need to go to the hospital for treatment. There are a few at-home tests you can take to see if you could have DKA, including:

  • Urine ketone test: A urine ketone test measures the number of ketones in your pee. Its usually a strip that will turn a certain color depending on what level of ketones are in your pee. Urine ketone tests can be purchased at your local pharmacy without a prescription. Follow the instructions on the packaging to be sure you are doing the test properly.
  • Blood ketone test: Some at-home blood glucose meters can check blood ketones as well as blood sugar levels with a drop of blood. There are also meters that just check ketones in your blood that you can buy.
  • Blood glucose tests: High blood sugar is a sign that you could have DKA. Checking your blood sugar with a blood glucose meter or using a continuous glucose monitoring sensor is the only way to know for sure if you have high blood sugar.

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If you experience any of the following symptoms, stop taking metformin and call your doctor immediately: extreme tiredness, weakness, or discomfort nausea vomiting stomach pain decreased appetite deep and rapid breathing or shortness of breath dizziness lightheadedness fast or slow heartbeat flushing of the

Diabetic Ketoacidosis Occurs When

Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA) | Ask the Experts from Diabetes Canada
  • you have an infection, such as flu or a urinary tract infection
  • not following your treatment plan, such as missing doses of insulin
  • an injury or surgery
  • taking certain medicines, such as steroid medication
  • binge drinking

In some cases theres no obvious trigger.


The following tips can help reduce your chances of getting diabetic ketoacidosis:

Diabetes complications are scary. But dont let fear keep you from taking good care of yourself. Follow your diabetes treatment plan carefully, and ask your diabetes treatment team for help when you need it.

Contact your diabetes team or doctor for advice if you find it hard to keep your blood sugar level down.

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What Are The Signs Of Diabetic Ketoacidosis

The signs of diabetic ketoacidosis include:

  • excessive thirst/drinking
  • weight loss with muscle wasting
  • dehydration
  • unkempt haircoat

These same signs can occur with other medical conditions, so it is important for your veterinarian to perform appropriate diagnostic tests to determine if diabetic ketoacidosis is truly the issue at hand.

Symptoms Causes Diagnosis And Treatments

For those with Type 1 Diabetes, this is an insulin emergency, developing in mere hours and having life-threatening consequences. Scary? Yes. Can you prevent it? Absolutely. Were here to empower you with clear answers to all your pressing Qs.

In This Article:

Elena Christofides MD, David Klonoff MD, and Guillermo Umpierrez MD

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