Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) occurs when a person’s blood glucose is too high because there is not enough insulin. Instead, the body starts to burn fat for energy. Fat is broken down into acids, causing acid levels to build up in the blood. These acids appear in urine and blood as ketones. DKA is a serious condition that can lead to coma or death if it is not promptly treated.
High blood glucose levels (greater than 250 mg per dL)
Dry mouth and skin
Symptoms that require emergency care include:
Severe stomach pain
Rapid or difficult breathing
Vomiting and nausea
Fruity breath odor
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Blood and urine tests will be done.
Blood and urine will be checked for ketones.
The levels of glucose and other substances in your blood will be tested.
An arterial blood sample will be taken to test the amount of acid in your blood. This will determine how severe your DKA is.
Tests for infection may also be done.
may also be done to check your heart's electrical activity.
DKA is treated with insulin, fluids, and minerals. This may require treatment in an intensive care unit.
Fluids and electrolytes will be given through IV to help your blood restore balance.
Insulin may be given by IV or injections. The insulin will immediately start reversing the cycle causing DKA. The insulin will let the body use glucose for fuel again. Fat will not be needed for fuel, so new ketones will not be made. The body will then be able to get rid of the extra ketones.
Close monitoring, exams, and blood tests will be needed during treatment
You may need additional treatment, such as antibiotics, if a bacterial infection is suspected.
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