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 >>
Diabetes With Ketone Bodies In Dogs
Diabetes Mellitus with Ketoacidosis in Dogs Diabetes is a medical condition in which the body cannot absorb sufficient glucose, thus causing a rise the blood sugar levels. The term “ketoacidosis,” meanwhile, refers to a condition in which levels of acid abnormally increased in the blood due to presence of “ketone bodies”. In diabetes with ketoacidosis, ketoacidosis immediately follows diabetes. It should be considered a dire emergency, one in which immediate treatment is required to save the life of the animal. This condition typically affects older dogs as well as females. In addition, miniature poodles and dachshunds are predisposed to diabetes with ketoacidosis. Symptoms and Types Weakness Lethargy Depression Lack of appetite (anorexia) Muscle wasting Rough hair coat Dehydration Dandruff Sweet breath odor Causes Although the ketoacidosis is ultimately brought on by the dog's insulin dependency due to diabetes mellitus, underlying factors include stress, surgery, and infections of the skin, respiratory, and urinary tract systems. Concurrent diseases such as heart failure, kidney failure, asthma, cancer may also lead to this type of condition. Diagnosis You will need to give a thorough history of your dog’s health, including the onset and nature of the symptoms, to your veterinarian. He or she will then perform a complete physical examination, as well as a biochemistry profile and complete blood count (CBC). The most consistent finding in patients with diabetes is higher than normal levels of glucose in the blood. If infection is present, white blood cell count will also high. Other findings may include: high liver enzymes, high blood cholesterol levels, accumulation in the blood of nitrogenous waste products (urea) that are usually excreted in the urine (azo Continue reading >>
Blood Glucose Levels Above 400
In order to reduce the risk of long-term health problems, a goal of therapy in diabetes is to achieve near-normal blood glucose, or blood sugar levels. But even in the short-term, it’s important to prevent high blood sugars, since significant elevations may be associated with an array of symptoms including dehydration, increased risk of infections, and the life-threatening conditions diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) or hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state (HHS). Since DKA and HHS are serious conditions that can lead to coma and death, blood sugar levels above 400 mg/dL should be considered a medical emergency. Video of the Day Diabetes mellitus is a condition that leads to high blood sugar levels. In diabetes, blood sugars tend to run well above the normal range -- which depending on the laboratory is somewhere between 70 to 100 mg/dL. If you have type 1 diabetes (T1DM), elevated blood sugars are caused by an absence of insulin, the hormone that is necessary to remove excess glucose from the blood. In type 2 diabetes (T2DM), blood sugars levels run high due to impaired insulin production or action. Factors that worsen blood sugars include illness, certain medications, inactivity, or diet -- such as eating large portions or excessive carbohydrates. Blood sugars can also increase if diabetes medications are not taken regularly. Measuring your blood sugar is an important way to manage diabetes, as glucose meter results can alert you to a problem well before symptoms occur. Classic symptoms of high blood sugars include thirst, frequent urination, dry skin, fatigue, drowsiness, blurred vision and sometimes unintentional weight loss. Infections -- such as skin or urinary tract infections -- are also more likely to occur when blood sugars are elevated. Symptoms may not be noticed unt 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 the Pre-diabetes (Impaired Glucose Tolerance) article more useful, or one of our other health articles. See also the separate Childhood Ketoacidosis article. Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a medical emergency with a significant morbidity and mortality. It should be diagnosed promptly and managed intensively. DKA is characterised by hyperglycaemia, acidosis and ketonaemia: Ketonaemia (3 mmol/L and over), or significant ketonuria (more than 2+ on standard urine sticks). Blood glucose over 11 mmol/L or known diabetes mellitus (the degree of hyperglycaemia is not a reliable indicator of DKA and the blood glucose may rarely be normal or only slightly elevated in DKA). Bicarbonate below 15 mmol/L and/or venous pH less than 7.3. However, hyperglycaemia may not always be present and low blood ketone levels (<3 mmol/L) do not always exclude DKA. Epidemiology DKA is normally seen in people with type 1 diabetes. Data from the UK National Diabetes Audit show a crude one-year incidence of 3.6% among people with type 1 diabetes. In the UK nearly 4% of people with type 1 diabetes experience DKA each year. About 6% of cases of DKA occur in adults newly presenting with type 1 diabetes. About 8% of episodes occur in hospital patients who did not primarily present with DKA. However, DKA may also occur in people with type 2 diabetes, although people with type 2 diabetes are much more likely to have a hyperosmolar hyperglycaemic state. Ketosis-prone type 2 diabetes tends to be more common in older, overweight, non-white people with type 2 diabetes, and DKA may be their Continue reading >>
Diabetic Ketoacidosis (dka)
Short-term high blood sugars are rarely lethal. However, for people with type 1 diabetes and some with type 2 who are not producing enough insulin, periods of high blood sugars can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis. The absence of insulin allows your blood to slowly become acidic. The body’s cells cannot survive under acidic conditions so the liver will try to help the cells that are starved for glucose and secrete glucose. When combined with dehydration, this process accelerates into a poisonous cocktail that undermines the heart, impairs the brain, and can lead to death in days. Prolonged high blood sugars can be caused by missing insulin doses, problems with an insulin pump, being sick with the flu or other illness, or eating more carbohydrates than your body has insulin to process. Who Can Develop Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA)? People with type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes can develop DKA. Most at risk however, are people with type 1 diabetes because they don’t make any insulin of their own and most people with type 2 diabetes do usually make some of their own insulin. Oftentimes DKA develops in people who have not yet been diagnosed with diabetes. Once diagnosed, people with diabetes can avoid DKA if they learn to recognize the beginning symptoms. How Do I Know If I Have Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA)? DKA can develop slowly or quickly. At first, it mimics the symptoms of high blood sugar: thirstiness dry mouth frequent urination You will likely have high blood sugars and ketones in your urine (more on this below). If your body still doesn’t get the insulin it needs, your blood becomes more acidic. you will likely feel tired your body might start to feel very achy like when you have a high fever. When any of the following symptoms occur, your condition has likely pr Continue reading >>
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 >>
Fire In My Veins: A Story Of Ketoacidosis
I’ve had type 1 diabetes for 14 long years. During that time, I have had five episodes of ketoacidosis, two of which were brought on by emotional stress. The one that happened eight years ago, shortly after the meltdown of a serious relationship, lives vividly in my memory. Usually I jump out of bed to start the day, but when I woke up that morning, I felt like the bed was on top of me, the weight of my chest too heavy to sit up. My mouth felt full of cotton and my tongue was swollen and useless. I sat up on the edge of my bed and supported my wobbling weight with my arms stretched out at my sides. Suddenly, the heartburn was so strong that it felt like a volcanic eruption from the middle up my chest up to the back of my throat. I think I tasted blood. I needed water. As I stumbled slowly down the stairs to the kitchen, I remembered that the night before, I had gone to bed with my glucose level in the low 100s. I was so distraught about my recent breakup that I couldn’t eat any dinner, but had forced down a few peanuts and a slice of cheese to avoid the ketones that can develop after not eating for too long. I knew that my post-breakup emotions were getting the best of me mentally, but was surprised when the effects started coming at me physically as well. It felt like my veins were on fire. I drank nearly a gallon of water, and I could almost hear the flames sizzling as my veins cooled down. Have you ever had the illusion that you could feel every single vein under your skin? Now imagine that each vein has scorching lava coursing through it instead of blood. Even my skin felt too tight for my body. I wanted to believe that I could flush the ketones out of my system on my own by not eating any carbohydrates, drinking lots of water, and urinating as much as possible. 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 >>
What A High Blood Sugar Feels Like
What a High Blood Sugar Feels Like The high blood sugars are what gets me. A high blood sugar is a blood glucose above 140 mg/dL. For me, the symptoms I experience with severe hyperglycemia don’t emerge until well over 250-300 mg/dL. The lows, while urgent and intensely serious are felt differently. I don’t like to compare the two evils but the highs can be just as debilitating and it leaves me feeling depleted. It’s so hard to describe this pain that can’t be seen. I look fine on the outside but inside my body is fighting for energy and I’m suffering from the adverse effects. In these moments all I want to do is cry but I have no tears. I can’t quench my thirst no matter how much water I drink. My whole body aches and I’m staring at the clock waiting for the insulin I’ve given myself to be absorbed; giving my body the relief and nourishment that I desperately need. When my blood sugar is high I despise diabetes the most. When it’s high the minutes and possibly hours it takes for my blood sugar to come down is agonizing. I sit uncomfortably, restless, back and forth to the bathroom checking for ketones and blaming myself. When I know that with diabetes anything is possible. It’s absolutely torturous for anyone to have to go through this. My heads pounding, I’m irritable and utterly exhausted. I feel like I’m being crushed by tons of weight. It feels like syrup is running through my veins. I can’t move. I can’t think. I can’t function properly. I feel useless. These are the moments that I beg and plead to just get back to where I was before the high blood sugar. I become grateful for the bad days that weren’t as bad as this. The high blood sugar could have been caused by a pump malfunction, hormones, stress, illness, wrong dosage, or any n 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 >>
What Are Symptoms Of Diabetic Ketoacidosis (dka)?
Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) often gives plenty of warning before it happens, but it can also occur with little warning. If you regularly check your blood glucose several times during the day, you won’t miss the most important warning signs: high blood glucose and ketones in your urine. Test your urine for ketones whenever your blood glucose is over 300 mg/dl or you feel ill. Signs of DKA include the following: High blood glucose above 240 mg/dl and not falling Classic signs of hyperglycemia: intense thirst, dry mouth, need to urinate frequently Lack of appetite or pains in your stomach Vomiting or nausea Blurry vision Fever or warm, dry, or flushed skin Difficulty breathing Feeling of weakness Sleepiness A fruity odor on your breath If you have high blood glucose, ketones, and dehydration, you can have a serious condition called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). With severe DKA you might have to go to the hospital or clinic for intravenous fluids and insulin. DKA can become a medical emergency. Besides high blood glucose and ketones, DKA can come with these symptoms: chills, fever deep, labored breathing -- called "Kussmaul respirations" Sweet, fruity-smelling breath Dehydration (dry mouth, dry eyes, little or no urination, dark circles under the eyes) Tenderness or pain in your stomach area Confusion, slowness, or drowsiness Call your doctor or diabetes educator if you have vomiting or the symptoms above along with blood glucose over 300 mg/dL and ketones. Your doctor can decide whether you should treat it at home -- or whether you need to go to a hospital. 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 >>
Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) happens when your blood sugar is high and your insulin level is low. This imbalance in the body causes a build-up of ketones. Ketones are toxic. If DKA isn’t treated, it can lead to diabetic coma and even death. DKA mainly affects people who have type 1 diabetes. But it can also happen with other types of diabetes, including type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes (during pregnancy). DKA is a very serious condition. If you have diabetes and think you may have DKA, contact your doctor or get to a hospital right away. The first symptoms to appear are usually: frequent urination. The next stage of DKA symptoms include: vomiting (usually more than once) confusion or trouble concentrating a fruity odor on the breath. The main cause of DKA is not enough insulin. A lack of insulin means sugar can’t get into your cells. Your cells need sugar for energy. This causes your body’s glucose levels to rise. To get energy, the body starts to burn fat. This process causes ketones to build up. Ketones can poison the body. High blood glucose levels can also cause you to urinate often. This leads to a lack of fluids in the body (dehydration). DKA can be caused by missing an insulin dose, eating poorly, or feeling stressed. An infection or other illness (such as pneumonia or a urinary tract infection) can also lead to DKA. If you have signs of infection (fever, cough, or sore throat), contact your doctor. You will want to make sure you are getting the right treatment. For some people, DKA may be the first sign that they have diabetes. When you are sick, you need to watch your blood sugar level very closely so that it doesn’t get too high or too low. Ask your doctor what your critical blood sugar level is. Most patients should watch their glucose levels c Continue reading >>
Introduction Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a dangerous complication of diabetes caused by a lack of insulin in the body. Diabetic ketoacidosis occurs when the body is unable to use blood sugar (glucose) because there isn't enough insulin. Instead, it breaks down fat as an alternative source of fuel. This causes a build-up of a by-product called ketones. Most cases of diabetic ketoacidosis occur in people with type 1 diabetes, although it can also be a complication of type 2 diabetes. Symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis include: passing large amounts of urine feeling very thirsty vomiting abdominal pain Seek immediate medical assistance if you have any of these symptoms and your blood sugar levels are high. Read more about the symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis. Who is affected by diabetic ketoacidosis? Diabetic ketoacidosis is a relatively common complication in people with diabetes, particularly children and younger adults who have type 1 diabetes. Younger children under four years of age are thought to be most at risk. In about 1 in 4 cases, diabetic ketoacidosis develops in people who were previously unaware they had type 1 diabetes. Diabetic ketoacidosis accounts for around half of all diabetes-related hospital admissions in people with type 1 diabetes. Diabetic ketoacidosis triggers These include: infections and other illnesses not keeping up with recommended insulin injections Read more about potential causes of diabetic ketoacidosis. Diagnosing diabetic ketoacidosis This is a relatively straightforward process. Blood tests can be used to check your glucose levels and any chemical imbalances, such as low levels of potassium. Urine tests can be used to estimate the number of ketones in your body. Blood and urine tests can also be used to check for an underlying infec 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 >>