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What is diabetic ketoacidosis?
Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a life-threatening condition caused by a build-up of waste products called ketones in the blood. It occurs in people with diabetes when they have little or no insulin.
What are the symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis?
Symptoms of diabetes ketoacidosis include increased thirst and urination, abdominal pains, vomiting, shortness of breath and rapid breathing, a fruity smell to the breath and drowsiness and confusion.
What causes diabetic ketoacidosis?
Diabetic ketoacidosis occurs because of a lack of insulin, which leads to the body burning its fat stores to provide energy for cells. This produces ketones, acidic substances that are toxic at high levels.
Who can develop diabetic ketoacidosis?
Diabetic ketoacidosis most commonly occurs in people with type 1 diabetes, but can also occur in people with type 2 diabetes and in pregnant women with gestational diabetes.
How is diabetic ketoacidosis treated?
Treatment for diabetic ketoacidosis should occur in a hospital. It involves replacing fluids lost through dehydration and making sure that electrolyte levels, particularly potassium, are maintained at safe levels. Insulin may be given to help reduce …
Can diabetic ketoacidosis be cured?
With prompt treatment, most people recover from diabetic ketoacidosis. However, it is important to properly manage diabetes to reduce the risk of diabetic ketoacidosis from recurring.
Will diabetic ketoacidosis clear on its own?
Diabetic ketoacidosis will not clear on its own and requires treatment as soon as possible. Untreated, it can cause organ failure, shock, coma and ultimately death.
Can diabetic ketoacidosis be prevented?
While diabetic ketoacidosis cannot be completely prevented, you can reduce your risk by managing diabetes well, including taking insulin and medications as prescribed, and regularly monitoring blood glucose levels as recommended by your doctor.
About this article
Author: Lauren Donley BSc (Hons)
First answered: 13 Jul 2015
Last reviewed: 14 May 2019
Rating: 4.4 out of 5
Votes: 130 (Click smiley face below left to rate)
Category: Diabetic ketoacidosis