Why Does Diabetes Cause Excessive Thirst?
7 0 We’ve written before about the signs and symptoms of diabetes. While there are a lot of sources about what symptoms diabetes causes, and even some good information about why they’re bad for you, what you don’t often get are the “whys”. And while the “whys” aren’t necessarily critical for your long-term health, they can help you to understand what’s going on with your body and why it acts the way it does. That, in turn, can help with acceptance and understanding of how to better treat the symptoms, which in turn can help you stay on a good diabetes management regimen. In short, you don’t NEED to know why diabetes causes excessive thirst, but knowing the mechanism behind it can make your blood glucose control regimen make more sense and help you stick to it. So why DOES diabetes cause thirst? First, we’d like to start by saying that excessive thirst is not a good indicator of diabetes. For many people, the symptom creeps up so slowly that it’s almost impossible to determine if your thirst has noticeably increased (unless you keep a spreadsheet of how much water you drink, in which case you also probably get tested pretty regularly anyway). It’s also a common enough symptom that a sudden increase in thirst can mean almost anything. Some conditions that cause thirst increases include allergies, the flu, the common cold, almost anything that causes a fever, and dehydration caused by vomiting or diarrhea. So while excessive thirst is one of those diabetes symptoms that happens, and needs to be addressed, it’s not always a great sign that you should immediately go out and get an A1C test. Why does diabetes cause thirst? Excessive thirst, when linked to another condition as a symptom or comorbidity, is called polydipsia. It’s usually one of the 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 >>
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 >>
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 >>
Print Overview Diabetic ketoacidosis is a serious complication of diabetes that occurs when your body produces high levels of blood acids called ketones. The condition develops when your body can't produce enough insulin. Insulin normally plays a key role in helping sugar (glucose) — a major source of energy for your muscles and other tissues — enter your cells. Without enough insulin, your body begins to break down fat as fuel. This process produces a buildup of acids in the bloodstream called ketones, eventually leading to diabetic ketoacidosis if untreated. If you have diabetes or you're at risk of diabetes, learn the warning signs of diabetic ketoacidosis — and know when to seek emergency care. Symptoms Diabetic ketoacidosis signs and symptoms often develop quickly, sometimes within 24 hours. For some, these signs and symptoms may be the first indication of having diabetes. You may notice: Excessive thirst Frequent urination Nausea and vomiting Abdominal pain Weakness or fatigue Shortness of breath Fruity-scented breath Confusion More-specific signs of diabetic ketoacidosis — which can be detected through home blood and urine testing kits — include: High blood sugar level (hyperglycemia) High ketone levels in your urine When to see a doctor If you feel ill or stressed or you've had a recent illness or injury, check your blood sugar level often. You might also try an over-the-counter urine ketones testing kit. Contact your doctor immediately if: You're vomiting and unable to tolerate food or liquid Your blood sugar level is higher than your target range and doesn't respond to home treatment Your urine ketone level is moderate or high Seek emergency care if: Your blood sugar level is consistently higher than 300 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or 16.7 mill Continue reading >>
Diabetes With Ketone Bodies In Dogs
Studies show that female dogs (particularly non-spayed) are more prone to DKA, as are older canines. Diabetic ketoacidosis is best classified through the presence of ketones that exist in the liver, which are directly correlated to the lack of insulin being produced in the body. This is a very serious complication, requiring immediate veterinary intervention. Although a number of dogs can be affected mildly, the majority are very ill. Some dogs will not recover despite treatment, and concurrent disease has been documented in 70% of canines diagnosed with DKA. Diabetes with ketone bodies is also described in veterinary terms as diabetic ketoacidosis or DKA. It is a severe complication of diabetes mellitus. Excess ketone bodies result in acidosis and electrolyte abnormalities, which can lead to a crisis situation for your dog. If left in an untreated state, this condition can and will be fatal. Some dogs who are suffering from diabetic ketoacidosis may present as systemically well. Others will show severe illness. Symptoms may be seen as listed below: Change in appetite (either increase or decrease) Increased thirst Frequent urination Vomiting Abdominal pain Mental dullness Coughing Fatigue or weakness Weight loss Sometimes sweet smelling breath is evident Slow, deep respiration. There may also be other symptoms present that accompany diseases that can trigger DKA, such as hypothyroidism or Cushing’s disease. While some dogs may live fairly normal lives with this condition before it is diagnosed, most canines who become sick will do so within a week of the start of the illness. There are four influences that can bring on DKA: Fasting Insulin deficiency as a result of unknown and untreated diabetes, or insulin deficiency due to an underlying disease that in turn exacerba Continue reading >>
Type 1 Diabetes Complications
Type 1 diabetes is complicated—and if you don’t manage it properly, there are complications, both short-term and long-term. “If you don’t manage it properly” is an important if statement: by carefully managing your blood glucose levels, you can stave off or prevent the short- and long-term complications. And if you’ve already developed diabetes complications, controlling your blood glucose levels can help you manage the symptoms and prevent further damage. Diabetes complications are all related to poor blood glucose control, so you must work carefully with your doctor and diabetes team to correctly manage your blood sugar (or your child’s blood sugar). Short-term Diabetes Complications Hypoglycemia: Hypoglycemia is low blood glucose (blood sugar). It develops when there’s too much insulin—meaning that you’ve taken (or given your child) too much insulin or that you haven’t properly planned insulin around meals or exercise. Other possible causes of hypoglycemia include certain medications (aspirin, for example, lowers the blood glucose level if you take a dose of more than 81mg) and alcohol (alcohol keeps the liver from releasing glucose). There are three levels of hypoglycemia, depending on how low the blood glucose level has dropped: mild, moderate, and severe. If you treat hypoglycemia when it’s in the mild or moderate stages, then you can prevent far more serious problems; severe hypoglycemia can cause a coma and even death (although very, very rarely). The signs and symptoms of low blood glucose are usually easy to recognize: Rapid heartbeat Sweating Paleness of skin Anxiety Numbness in fingers, toes, and lips Sleepiness Confusion Headache Slurred speech For more information about hypoglycemia and how to treat it, please read our article on hy Continue reading >>
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 making insulin, it happens over a short period of time. In just a few days your blood sugar can get very high and ketones can build up to a high level very fast. It may happen so fast that ketoacidosis symptoms are the first symptoms of diabetes that you have. What are the symptoms? Symptoms of ketoacidosis may include: Shortness of breath Fruity smelling breath Very dry mouth Nausea and vomiting Symptoms of high blood sugar may include: Blurry vision Dry mouth Feeling very thirsty and drinking a lot Urinating a lot Tiredness Several hours to a couple of days after symptoms start, ketoacidosis may 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 >>
What Is High Blood Sugar?
Have you ever tried to fly a remote control airplane or helicopter? If you steer too sharply one way, your plane will crash into the ground. And if you go too far in the opposite direction, the plane will nose directly upward, making it difficult to control. For people with diabetes, controlling blood sugar levels (or blood glucose levels) is kind of like piloting that plane. To stay in the air and have the most fun, you have to keep blood sugar levels steady. Having a blood sugar level that's too high can make you feel lousy, and having it often can be unhealthy. The blood glucose level is the amount of glucose in the blood. Glucose is a sugar that comes from the foods we eat, and it's also formed and stored inside the body. It's the main source of energy for the cells of our body, and it's carried to each cell through the bloodstream. Hyperglycemia (pronounced: hi-per-gly-SEE-me-uh) is the medical word for high blood sugar levels. High blood sugar levels happen when the body either can't make insulin (type 1 diabetes) or can't respond to insulin properly (type 2 diabetes). The body needs insulin so glucose in the blood can enter the cells of the body where it can be used for energy. In people who have developed diabetes, glucose builds up in the blood, resulting in hyperglycemia. Having too much sugar in the blood for long periods of time can cause serious health problems if it's not treated. Hyperglycemia can damage the vessels that supply blood to vital organs, which can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, kidney disease, vision problems, and nerve problems in people with diabetes. These problems don't usually show up in kids or teens with diabetes who have had the disease for only a few years. However, these health problems can occur in adulthood in some Continue reading >>
Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a serious problem that can occur in people with diabetes if their body starts to run out of insulin. This causes harmful substances called ketones to build up in the body, which can be life-threatening if not spotted and treated quickly. DKA mainly affects people with type 1 diabetes, but can sometimes occur in people with type 2 diabetes. If you have diabetes, it's important to be aware of the risk and know what to do if DKA occurs. Symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis Signs of DKA include: needing to pee more than usual being sick breath that smells fruity (like pear drop sweets or nail varnish) deep or fast breathing feeling very tired or sleepy passing out DKA can also cause high blood sugar (hyperglycaemia) and a high level of ketones in your blood or urine, which you can check for using home-testing kits. Symptoms usually develop over 24 hours, but can come on faster. Check your blood sugar and ketone levels Check your blood sugar level if you have symptoms of DKA. If your blood sugar is 11mmol/L or over and you have a blood or urine ketone testing kit, check your ketone level. If you do a blood ketone test: lower than 0.6mmol/L is a normal reading 0.6 to 1.5mmol/L means you're at a slightly increased risk of DKA and should test again in a couple of hours 1.6 to 2.9mmol/L means you're at an increased risk of DKA and should contact your diabetes team or GP as soon as possible 3mmol/L or over means you have a very high risk of DKA and should get medical help immediately If you do a urine ketone test, a result of more than 2+ means there's a high chance you have DKA. When to get medical help Go to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department straight away if you think you have DKA, especially if you have a high level of ketones in Continue reading >>
Headache. Check. Eyes that weighed at least a pound apiece. Check. Mouth full of sweaters. Check. Looks like they're all here - the symptoms of a high blood sugar. Sitting down to catch up on some emails, I absently fish my meter out of my gym back and lance my fingertip. I hit send, graze against the new infusion set on my left thigh, and see a meter result of 420 mg/dl. "Oh, that is just fantastic." Taking out my pump, I calculated the massive correction bolus and felt the quiet sting of the insulin as it coursed through the infusion set I had placed an hour earlier. Normally when I'm at an elevated blood sugar, I feel lethargic and generally Crumbs Morrone, but this one had a different feel to it entirely. My stomach felt like it was playing host to a hamster wheel, and my headache was blinding. I brought the ketone strips into the bathroom and watched uneasily as the pad on the ketone strip turned a deep purple. Large ketones. I hadn't seen those suckers since my days at Clara Barton Camp. I never, ever have ketones, and I test regularly for them. So where did this come from? My stomach in knots, I wandered back into the living room and filled Chris in on the situation. "I'm high. Like crazy high - 420 mg/dl. And I just tested for ketones. I have large ketones. I feel like complete shit, and my stomach is really nauseous." He rubbed my back. "So what do we do?" "Drink a ton of water and try to flush out the ketones, I guess. If I can't keep the water down, we're off to the emergency room." It dawned on me that I had the process of treating a low blood sugar down to a science, but navigating a serious high was unfamiliar territory. Normally, I just bolus and wait for the numbers to fall, but this high came with an added bonus of ketones. The word "ketones" was enough 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 >>
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 >>
Type 2 Diabetes Faqs
Common questions about type 2 diabetes: How do you treat type 2 diabetes? When you have type 2 diabetes, you first need to eat a healthy diet, stay physically active and lose any extra weight. If these lifestyle changes cannot control your blood sugar, you also may need to take pills and other injected medication, including insulin. Eating a healthy diet, being physically active, and losing any extra weight is the first line of therapy. “Diet and exercise“ is the foundation of all diabetes management because it makes your body’s cells respond better to insulin (in other words, it decreases insulin resistance) and lowers blood sugar levels. If you cannot normalize or control the blood sugars with diet, weight loss and exercise, the next treatment phase is taking medicine either orally or by injection. Diabetes pills work in different ways – some lower insulin resistance, others slow the digestion of food or increase insulin levels in the blood stream. The non-insulin injected medications for type 2 diabetes have a complicated action but basically lower blood glucose after eating. Insulin therapy simply increases insulin in the circulation. Don’t be surprised if you have to use multiple medications to control the blood sugar. Multiple medications, also known as combination therapy is common in the treatment of diabetes! If one medication is not enough, you medical provider may give you two or three or more different types of pills. Insulin or other injected medications also may be prescribed. Or, depending on your medical condition, you may be treated only with insulin or injected medication therapy. Many people with type 2 diabetes have elevated blood fats (high triglycerides and cholesterol) and blood pressure, so you may be given medications for these problem Continue reading >>