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Diabetic Ketoacidosis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis And Treatment

Diabetes is a group of diseases that affect how your body uses blood sugar and no matter what type of diabetes you have, it can lead to serious complications. One such complication of diabetes is diabetic ketoacidosis, which we are going to discuss in the article.

What Is Diabetic Ketoacidosis? [1]

It is a serious complication of diabetes that occurs when the body produces high levels of blood acids called ketones and this condition happens when your body can't produce enough insulin.

Diabetic ketoacidosis is most likely to occur in people with type 1 diabetes and it's less common in people with type 2 diabetes.

Causes Of Diabetic Ketoacidosis [2]

Insulin is a hormone that helps sugar enter the cells. If the body has insufficient insulin, the cells of the body can't use sugar properly for energy. And when the sugar can't enter the cells, it starts building up in the blood, resulting in high blood sugar levels.

In response to this, the body starts breaking down fat to use it as a fuel which produces acids known as ketones. Excessive build-up of ketones makes the blood acidic and this causes diabetic ketoacidosis.

The most common triggers of diabetic ketoacidosis are illness or infection, missing an insulin injection, heart attack, physical or emotional trauma, alcohol or drug abuse, and certain diuretic medications.

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Symptoms Of Diabetic Ketoacidosis

  • Excessive thirst
  • Urinating frequently
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Confusion
  • Fruity-smelling breath
  • Rapid breathing
  • Dry mouth and skin

Risk Factors Of Diabetic Ketoacidosis [3]

  • People with type 1 diabetes
  • Stress
  • High fever
  • Heart attack or stroke
  • Smoke
  • Under the age of 19
  • Emotional or physical trauma

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When To See A Doctor

You should go to the doctor immediately if you have the following symptoms:

  • You are vomiting and unable to eat and swallow food and drinks
  • Your abdomen hurts and you feel nauseated
  • Breathing becomes difficult and the breath smells fruity
  • You feel tired and confused

Diagnosis Of Diabetic Ketoacidosis [4]

The doctor will first do a physical exam and conduct various tests to help determine what triggered diabetic ketoacidosis. These tests include the following:

  • Blood tests - Blood tests used in the diagnosis of diabetic ketoacidosis will measure blood sugar level, ketone level, and blood acidity level.
  • X-ray - An X-ray of the chest can help look out for signs of an infection.
  • Urinalysis test - It will detect and check for any ketones in the urine.
  • Blood electrolyte test - It measures the levels of electrolytes such as potassium and sodium in the blood to assess metabolic function.

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Treatment Of Diabetic Ketoacidosis [5]

Story first published: Friday, November 29, 2019, 19:00 [IST]
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