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What Is Diabetic Ketoacidosis?

Diabetic ketoacidosis is a buildup of acids in the blood. It is a life-threatening complication of diabetes resulting from not having enough insulin. It may happen with type 1 diabetes. (It rarely happens with type 2 diabetes.) It’s an emergency that must be treated right away. If ketoacidosis is not treated right away, it can cause coma or death. What is the cause? Diabetic ketoacidosis happens when the body does not have enough insulin. Without insulin, sugars in the blood cannot move out of the blood and into the body’s cells, so the cells burn fats instead of sugar for energy. The burning of fats makes byproducts called ketones. The ketones build up to poisonous and dangerous levels in the blood. Usually the blood sugar is also very high. Ketoacidosis can happen if you skip doses of insulin. Or it may happen if there is a change in your life, such as: Infection Injury Heart attack Surgery Pregnancy Other types of physical or emotional stress If you are using an insulin pump, it may happen if you stop getting insulin because there is a kink in the tube or the tube comes out. Sometimes you may not know you have diabetes until ketoacidosis occurs. When the pancreas stops makin Continue reading >>

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Popular Questions

  1. kel4han

    I still dont see why ketones (small-moderate) are dangerous if your BS is in range and you are ill. It has been explained many of times. Dont you have ketones becuase you are ill, the stress on the body,not becuase you are at risk of DKA? Can someone explain it in lame man terms?

  2. lilituc

    Here is the argument as I've heard it: Ketones are a result of not enough insulin. Often high bg is present as well, as another result of not enough insulin. Type 1 diabetics aren't able to clear ketones like other people would, so if they build up, you can end up with DKA. I've heard several instances where someone started going into DKA with "normal" blood sugar and ended up with one IV in each arm - one dextrose and one insulin.
    Anecdotally, it seems to me that this is more of a risk with children and not adults. Still, I wouldn't take chances with it. If I had moderate or high ketones, I would try to clear them out (by carb and insulin intake).

  3. BlueSky

    lilituc said:

    .... Ketones are a result of not enough insulin. ....
    Not quite. Ketones in the urine are the result of burning fat. This can happen with adequate insulin and normal blood glucose, in which case it is not dangerous.

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