How Dka Happens And What To Do About It
Certified Diabetes Educator Gary Scheiner offers an overview of diabetic ketoacidosis. (excerpted from Think Like A Pancreas: A Practical Guide to Managing Diabetes With Insulin by Gary Scheiner MS, CDE, DaCapo Press, 2011) Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA) is a condition in which the blood becomes highly acidic as a result of dehydration and excessive ketone (acid) production. When bodily fluids become acidic, some of the body’s systems stop functioning properly. It is a serious condition that will make you violently ill and it can kill you. The primary cause of DKA is a lack of working insulin in the body. Most of the body’s cells burn primarily sugar (glucose) for energy. Many cells also burn fat, but in much smaller amounts. Glucose happens to be a very “clean” form of energy—there are virtually no waste products left over when you burn it up. Fat, on the other hand, is a “dirty” source of energy. When fat is burned, there are waste products produced. These waste products are called “ketones.” Ketones are acid molecules that can pollute the bloodstream and affect the body’s delicate pH balance if produced in large quantities. Luckily, we don’t tend to burn huge amounts of fat at one time, and the ketones that are produced can be broken down during the process of glucose metabolism. Glucose and ketones can “jump into the fire” together. It is important to have an ample supply of glucose in the body’s cells. That requires two things: sugar (glucose) in the bloodstream, and insulin to shuttle the sugar into the cells. A number of things would start to go wrong if you have no insulin in the bloodstream: Without insulin, glucose cannot get into the body’s cells. As a result, the cells begin burning large amounts of fat for energy. This, of course, Continue reading >>
The Scary Experience Of Diabetic Ketoacidosis
Today, we’re excited to share with you another guest blog from Katie Janowiak, who works for the Medtronic Foundation, our company’s philanthropic arm. When she first told me her story about food poisoning and Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA), I knew others could benefit from hearing it as well. Thanks Katie for your openness and allowing us to share your scary story so that the LOOP community can learn from it. Throughout this past year, I’ve had the honor of sharing with you, the amazing LOOP community, my personal journey and the often humorous sequence of events that is my life with T1. Humor is, after all, the best (and cheapest) therapy. Allow me to pause today to share with you the down and dirty of what it feels like to have something that is not the slightest bit humorous: diabetic ketoacidosis.You are hot. You are freezing. You are confused. You are blacked out but coherent. You go to talk but words fail you. Time flies and goes in slow motion simultaneously. You will likely smell and look like death. In my instance, this was brought on by the combination of excessive vomiting and dehydration caused by food poisoning and the diabetic ketoacidosis that followed after my body had gone through so much. In hindsight, I was lucky, my husband knew that I had food poisoning because I began vomiting after our meal. But I had never prepped him on diabetic ketoacidosis and the symptoms (because DKA was for those other diabetics.) Upon finding me in our living room with a bowl of blood and bile by my side (no, I am not exaggerating), he got me into the car and took me to emergency care. It was 5:30 p.m. – and I thought it was 11:00 a.m. The series of events that led up to my stay in the ICU began innocently enough. It was a warm summer night and my husband and I walke Continue reading >>
As fat is broken down, acids called ketones build up in the blood and urine. In high levels, ketones are poisonous. This condition is known as ketoacidosis. Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is sometimes the first sign of type 1 diabetes in people who have not yet been diagnosed. It can also occur in someone who has already been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Infection, injury, a serious illness, missing doses of insulin shots, or surgery can lead to DKA in people with type 1 diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes can also develop DKA, but it is less common. It is usually triggered by uncontrolled blood sugar, missing doses of medicines, or a severe illness. Continue reading >>
What Is Diabetic Ketoacidosis?
Diabetic ketoacidosis, or DKA, is a serious health problem that can happen to a person with diabetes. It happens when chemicals called ketones build up in the blood. Normally, the cells of your body take in and use glucose as a source of energy. Glucose moves through the body in the bloodstream. Insulin is a hormone that helps your cells take in the glucose from the blood. If you have diabetes, your cells can’t take in and use this glucose in a normal way. This may be because your body doesn’t make enough insulin. Or it may be because your cells don’t respond to it normally. As a result, glucose builds up in your bloodstream and doesn’t reach your cells. Without glucose to use, the cells in your body burn fat instead of glucose for energy. When cells burn fat, they make ketones. High levels of ketones can poison the body. High levels of glucose can also build up in your blood and cause other symptoms. Ketoacidosis also changes the amount of other substances in your blood. These include electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium, and bicarbonate. This can lead to other problems. Ketoacidosis happens most often in a person with type 1 diabetes. This is a condition where the body does not make enough insulin. In rare cases, ketoacidosis can happen in a person with type 2 diabetes. It can happen when they are under stress, like when they are sick, or when they have taken certain medicines that change how their bodies handle glucose. Diabetic ketoacidosis is pretty common. It is more common in younger people. Women have it more often than men do. What causes diabetic ketoacidosis? High levels of ketones and glucose in your blood can cause ketoacidosis. This might happen if you: Don’t know you have diabetes, and your body is breaking down too much fat Know you have dia Continue reading >>
What Is Diabetic Ketoacidosis?
Having diabetes means that there is too much sugar (glucose) in your blood. When you eat food, your body breaks down much of the food into glucose. Your blood carries the glucose to the cells of your body. An organ in your upper belly, called the pancreas, makes and releases a hormone called insulin when it detects glucose. Your body uses insulin to help move the glucose from the bloodstream into the cells for energy. When your body does not make insulin (type 1 diabetes), or has trouble using insulin (type 2 diabetes), glucose cannot get into your cells. The glucose level in your blood goes up. Too much glucose in your blood (also called hyperglycemia or high blood sugar) can cause many problems. People with type 1 diabetes are at risk for a problem called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). It is very rare in people with type 2 diabetes. DKA happens when your body does not have enough insulin to move glucose into your cells, and your body begins to burn fat for energy. The burning of fats causes a build-up of dangerous levels of ketones in the blood. At the same time, sugar also builds up in the blood. DKA is an emergency that must be treated right away. If it is not treated right away, it can cause coma or death. What can I expect in the hospital? You will need to stay in the hospital in order to bring your blood sugar level under control and treat the cause of the DKA. Several things may be done while you are in the hospital to monitor, test, and treat your condition. They include: Monitoring You will be checked often by the hospital staff. You may have fingersticks to check your blood sugar regularly. This may be done as often as every hour. You will learn how to check your blood sugar level in order to manage your diabetes when you go home. A heart (cardiac) monitor may Continue reading >>
Diabetic Ketoacidosis (dka)
Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA) Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) occurs when the body does not have enough insulin. Insulin is what breaks down sugar into energy. When insulin is not present to break down sugars, our body begins to break down fat. Fat break down produces ketones which spill into the urine and cause glucose build up in the blood, thus acidifying the body. Because sugar is not entering into our body’s cells for energy breakdown, the sugar is being processed by the kidneys and excreted through the urine; as a result, we become dehydrated and our blood becomes even more acidic. This leads to sickness and hospitalization if not treated. If a person’s blood sugar is over 240, they should start checking their blood for ketones. If you have diabetes, or love someone who does, being aware of warning signs of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) can help save a life. Early Symptoms of DKA: High blood glucose level, usually > 300 High volume to ketones present in blood or urine Frequent urination or thirst that lasts for a day or more Dry skin and mouth Rapid shallow breathing Abdominal pain (especially in children) Muscle stiffness or aches Flushed face As DKA Worsens: Decreases alertness, confusion – brain is dehydrating Deep, labored, and gasping breathing Headache Breath that smells fruity or like fingernail polish remover Nausea and/or vomiting Abdomen may be tender and hurt if touched Decreased consciousness, coma, death If you think you might have DKA, test for ketones. If ketones are present, call your health care provider right away. To treat high blood sugar, hydrate with water or sugar free, caffeine free drinks. Sugar free popsicles and snacks are also good alternatives. Always call the doctor if vomiting goes on for more than two hours. Symptoms can go from mild Continue reading >>
What A High Blood Sugar Feels Like.
The American Diabetes Association cites the following symptoms as indicative of high blood sugar: High blood glucose [Editor’s note: Duh] High levels of sugar in the urine Frequent urination Increased thirst And if high blood sugar goes untreated? “Hyperglycemia can be a serious problem if you don’t treat it, so it’s important to treat as soon as you detect it. If you fail to treat hyperglycemia, a condition called ketoacidosis (diabetic coma) could occur. Ketoacidosis develops when your body doesn’t have enough insulin. Without insulin, your body can’t use glucose for fuel, so your body breaks down fats to use for energy. When your body breaks down fats, waste products called ketones are produced. Your body cannot tolerate large amounts of ketones and will try to get rid of them through the urine. Unfortunately, the body cannot release all the ketones and they build up in your blood, which can lead to ketoacidosis.” – ADA website But what does a high blood sugar feel like? Because when you see someone who is working through an elevated blood sugar, they may not look terribly out of sorts. But what is happening inside of them is real, and plays out in a myriad of ways for every person with diabetes. I’ve tried to write about it several times, but each high is different, and affects me in different ways: “It’s a thick feeling in the base of your brain, like someone’s cracked open your head and replaced your gray matter with sticky jam. I find myself zoning out and staring at things, and my eyeballs feel dry and like they’re tethered to my head by frayed ropes instead of optic nerves. Everything is slow and heavy and whipped with heavy cream.” – Oh, High! “There’s something about a high blood sugar that makes my body feel weighted down, l Continue reading >>
Diabetes Complications In Dogs And Cats: Diabetes Ketoacidosis (dka)
Unfortunately, we veterinarians are seeing an increased prevalence of diabetes mellitus in dogs and cats. This is likely due to the growing prevalence of obesity (secondary to inactive lifestyle, a high carbohydrate diet, lack of exercise, etc.). So, if you just had a dog or cat diagnosed with diabetes mellitus, what do you do? First, we encourage you to take a look at these articles for an explanation of the disease: Diabetes Mellitus (Sugar Diabetes) in Dogs Once you have a basic understanding of diabetes mellitus (or if you already had one), this article will teach you about life-threatening complications that can occur as a result of the disease; specifically, I discuss a life-threatening condition called diabetes ketoacidosis (DKA) so that you know how to help prevent it! What is DKA? When diabetes goes undiagnosed, or when it is difficult to control or regulate, the complication of DKA can occur. DKA develops because the body is so lacking in insulin that the sugar can’t get into the cells -- resulting in cell starvation. Cell starvation causes the body to start breaking down fat in an attempt to provide energy (or a fuel source) to the body. Unfortunately, these fat breakdown products, called “ketones,” are also poisonous to the body. Symptoms of DKA Clinical signs of DKA include the following: Weakness Not moving (in cats, hanging out by the water bowl) Not eating to complete anorexia Large urinary clumps in the litter box (my guideline? If it’s bigger than a tennis ball, it’s abnormal) Weight loss (most commonly over the back), despite an overweight body condition Excessively dry or oily skin coat Abnormal breath (typically a sweet “ketotic” odor) In severe cases DKA can also result in more significant signs: Abnormal breathing pattern Jaundice Ab Continue reading >>
Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a serious complications of untreated diabetes. In this complication, severely insufficient insulin levels in the body results into high blood sugar that leads to the production and buildup of ketones in the blood. These ketones are slightly acidic, and large amounts of them can lead to ketoacidosis. If remained untreated, the condition leads to diabetic coma and may be fatal. Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) gets triggered by a stressful event on the body, such as an illness or severe lack of insulin. DKA is more common in people with type 1 diabetes. In some cases, identification of DKA is the first indication that a person has diabetes. Early Sluggish and extreme tiredness Fruity smell to breath (like acetone) Extreme thirst, despite large fluid intake Constant urination/bedwetting Extreme weight loss Presence of Oral Thrush or yeast infections that fail to go away Muscle wasting Agitation / Irritation / Aggression / Confusion Late At this stage, Diabetic ketoacidosis reaches a life-threatening level: Vomiting. Although this can be a sign of hyperglycemia and isn't always a late-stage sign, it can occur with or without ketoacidosis. Confusion Abdominal pain Loss of appetite Flu-like symptoms Unconsciousness (diabetic coma) Being lethargic and apathetic Extreme weakness Kussmaul breathing (air hunger). In this condition, patients breathe more deeply and/or more rapidly The major risk factors accelerating on set of diabetic ketoacidosis include the following: Diabetes mellitus: Type 1 diabetics are at a higher risk of DKA, because they must rely on outside insulin sources for survival. DKA can occur in patients with type 2, particularly in obese children. Age: DKA may occur at any age, but younger people below 19 years of age are more susceptib Continue reading >>
Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA) is a frightening term for any diabetic. This condition can rapidly kill a diabetic if treatment is not administered immediately. Ketoacidosis can occur in any person for a number of reasons such as alcoholism or starvation, but diabetic ketoacidosis is only found in diabetics, primarily uncontrolled type 1 diabetics. Often times a diabetic is first diagnosed with diabetes when rushed to the ER in severe ketoacidosis. In general ketoacidosis is when the body produces too much ketones, it breaks down fatty acids and these build up in the blood and quite literally the blood becomes toxic and poisonous making the body deathly ill. The build up of acetone in the blood is marked by a sweet almost fruity smell on the breath and sometimes in the sweat. Exactly what causes ketoacidosis in diabetics? When a diabetic is uncontrolled and their blood sugar runs too high over an extended length of time the body recognizes that it is being starved for insulin, so it begins to breakdown fat for energy. This breakdown of fat causes acid to build up in the blood and this leads to ketoacidosis. Oftentimes diabetic ketoacidosis is triggered by illness and/or dehydration. If you are diabetic and have, say, a cold or the flu and your blood sugar has been running higher for a while, you are at high risk of developing ketoacidosis. Always drink plenty of water to avoid becoming dehydrated and ending up sick. Hydration is good for everyone, especially diabetics. What are the symptoms of ketoacidosis? Frequent urination, unquenchable thirst/dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, muscle aches/cramps, dehydration, fruity smell on the breath, high blood sugar, shortness of breath (an uncontrollable fast, shallow breathing). Before the early 1900’s diabetic ketoacidosis was the e Continue reading >>
I Nearly Died From Dka
“Geez kid, when’d you get so skinny?” My dad was getting me ready for school one February morning. As he began to help me into my school clothes, he’d lifted my pajama shirt up and was shocked at the sight of my protruding ribs. “You’d better start eating more,” he said to me. And so I did. My appetite increased immensely. For breakfast, I’d finish two, sometimes three large bowls of cereal, which wasn’t adding up considering the noticeable weight I was losing. My thirst intensified. Late one night, my mom awoke to a commotion coming from the kitchen. To her dismay, there was her 6-year-old daughter on the countertop in her nightgown, pouring six glasses of apple juice. “Carlie, what’re you doing? Are you alright?” “Go away! Leave me alone!” I snapped, proceeding to guzzle down all six glasses. I felt so sick, like I was wasting away. But I kept it to myself and I didn’t tell my parents how I was feeling in fear of being taken to a doctor. February 22, 2003 as I sat in the basement, staring lifelessly at the television in front of me, I tried my best to listen to the conversation that was taking place between my parents in the kitchen. “Dave, she’s sick. We need to do something.” I could tell my mom was in tears just by her voice. “We’ll call the nurse hotline today and see what they tell us to do.” The woman whom my dad spoke with told him that she believed it may be diabetes, but said that he should wait until Monday to take me to a doctor because of the snowstorm my city was currently in the middle of. However, later that day, my mom had enough. While my dad was shoveling my grandma’s driveway, back at home, my mom had lifted me over a baby gate in the kitchen and watched my eyes roll back into my head. She called my dad an Continue reading >>
Take Care Of Yourself When Sick Or Under Stress
When we're stressed, our bodies need extra energy to help us cope and recover. This is true whether bodies are under stress from illness or injury or are dealing with the effects of emotional stress, both good and bad. To meet the demand for more energy, the body responds by releasing into the bloodstream sugar that's been stored in the liver, causing blood sugar levels to rise. In someone without diabetes, the pancreas responds to the rise in blood sugar by releasing enough insulin into the bloodstream to help convert the sugar into energy. This brings blood sugar levels back down to normal. In someone with diabetes, the extra demand usually means needing to take more diabetes medicine (insulin or pills.) To make sure your body is getting enough medicine to help keep your blood sugar levels close to normal, you'll need to test more often when you are: Sick Recovering from surgery Fighting an infection Feeling upset Under more stress than usual Traveling Type 1 Diabetes In people with type 1 diabetes, blood sugar levels rise in response to stress, but the body doesn't have enough insulin to turn the sugar into energy. Instead, the body burns stored fat to meet energy needs. When fat is burned for energy, it creates waste products called ketones. As fat is broken down, ketones start to build up in the bloodstream. High levels of ketones in the blood can lead to a serious condition known as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), which can cause a person to lose consciousness and go into a diabetic coma. Type 2 Diabetes In people with type 2 diabetes, the body usually has enough insulin available to turn sugar into energy, so it doesn't need to burn fat. However, stress hormones can cause blood sugar levels to rise to very high and even dangerous levels. People with type 2 diabetes Continue reading >>
What Is It? Diabetic ketoacidosis is a potentially fatal complication of diabetes that occurs when you have much less insulin than your body needs. This problem causes the blood to become acidic and the body to become dangerously dehydrated. Diabetic ketoacidosis can occur when diabetes is not treated adequately, or it can occur during times of serious sickness. To understand this illness, you need to understand the way your body powers itself with sugar and other fuels. Foods we eat are broken down by the body, and much of what we eat becomes glucose (a type of sugar), which enters the bloodstream. Insulin helps glucose to pass from the bloodstream into body cells, where it is used for energy. Insulin normally is made by the pancreas, but people with type 1 diabetes (insulin-dependent diabetes) don't produce enough insulin and must inject it daily. Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School. Continue reading >>
Patient professional reference Professional Reference articles are written by UK doctors and are based on research evidence, UK and European Guidelines. They are designed for health professionals to use. You may find one of our health articles more useful. Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is the leading cause of mortality in childhood diabetes.The primary cause of DKA is absolute or relative insulin deficiency: Absolute - eg, previously undiagnosed type 1 diabetes mellitus or a patient with known type 1 diabetes who does not take their insulin. Relative - stress causes a rise in counter-regulatory hormones with relative insulin deficiency. DKA can be fatal The usual causes of death are: Cerebral oedema - associated with 25% mortality (see 'Cerebral odedema', below). Hypokalaemia - which is preventable with good monitoring. Aspiration pneumonia - thus, use of a nasogastric tube in the semi-conscious or unconscious is advised. Deficiency of insulin. Rise in counter-regulatory hormones, including glucagon, cortisol, growth hormone, and catecholamines. Thus, inappropriate gluconeogenesis and liver glycogenolysis occur compounding the hyperglycaemia, which causes hyperosmolarity and ensuing polyuria, dehydration and loss of electrolytes. Accelerated catabolism from lipolysis of adipose tissue leads to increased free fatty acid circulation, which on hepatic oxidation produces the ketone bodies (acetoacetic acid and beta-hydroxybutyric acid) that cause the metabolic acidosis. A vicious circle is usually set up as vomiting usually occurs compounding the stress and dehydration; the cycle can only be broken by providing insulin and fluids; otherwise, severe acidosis occurs and can be fatal. Biochemical criteria The biochemical criteria required for a diagnosis of DKA to be made are Continue reading >>
How Long Does Diabetes Ketoacidosis Last?
Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a common complication of diabetes in children, which needs hospitalisation and can be fatal. In most cases of diabetic ketoacidosis, death is caused due to cerebral edema or complication of DKA. Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) can be the first sign or presenting symptom in some cases of type 1 diabetes (before diabetes is diagnosed or they have any other symptoms). According to studies, about 20 to 40% of newly diagnosed patients of type 1 diabetes are admitted in DKA. Duration of Diabetic ketoacidosis: with appropriate treatment (fluid replacement and insulin therapy), DKA can be corrected in about 24-48 hours (depending on the severity of DKA at presentation). In most cases, the duration of therapy is about 48 hours. Treatment for DKA aims to correct the metabolic abnormalities of DKA such as high blood sugar level, high ketone levels and serum osmolality with insulin and fluids. Treatment of DKA includes: Insulin replacement to correct blood glucose levels. Fluid and electrolyte replacement to correct dehydration and imbalance of electrolytes in the body. Treating the cause of DKA (such as infection, injury etc). Duration of fluid replacement: fluid is replaced slowly; if it is given at an excessive rate or more than required, it can cause brain swelling (cerebral edema). Most cases have a fluid deficit of about 10% or 100 ml/kg. Fluid is given intravenously (into a vein) slowly with the aim of replacing 50% of the fluid deficit during the first 12 hours of presentation and the remainder within the next 12-16 hours. As high blood sugar is corrected more rapidly than ketoacidosis (high blood ketone levels), glucose-containing fluids is given once the glucose falls to < 14 mmol/l to prevent the fall in blood glucose levels hypoglycaemia). Dur Continue reading >>