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 >>
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 Coma Recovery: What You Need To Know
In people with diabetes, a diabetic coma occurs when severe levels of either high or low uncontrolled blood sugar are not corrected. If treated quickly, a person will make a rapid recovery from a diabetic coma. However, diabetic coma can be fatal or result in brain damage. It is important for people with diabetes to control their blood sugars and know what to do when their blood sugar levels are not within their target range. The severe symptoms of uncontrolled blood sugar that can come before a diabetic coma include vomiting, difficulty breathing, confusion, weakness, and dizziness. Recovery from diabetic coma If a diabetic coma is not treated within a couple of hours of it developing, it can cause irreversible brain damage. If no treatment is received, a diabetic coma will be fatal. In addition, having blood sugar levels that continue to be too low or too high can be bad for long-term health. This remains true even if they do not develop into diabetic coma. Recognizing the early signs of low or high blood sugar levels and regular monitoring can help people with diabetes keep their blood sugar levels within the healthy range. Doing so will also reduce the risk of associated complications and diabetic coma. What is diabetes? Diabetes is a long-term condition in which the body is unable to control the level of a sugar called glucose in the blood. Diabetes is caused by either a lack of insulin, the body's inability to use insulin correctly, or both. In people who don't have diabetes, insulin usually ensures that excess glucose is removed from the bloodstream. It does this by stimulating cells to absorb the glucose they need for energy from the blood. Insulin also causes any remaining glucose to be stored in the liver as a substance called glycogen. The production of insul Continue reading >>
Canine Diabetic Ketoacidosis (dka)
Canine diabetic ketoacidosis, sometimes known as DKA, is a potentially fatal disease that most commonly occurs in dogs with uncontrolled diabetes mellitus, although in rare cases it has been known to appear in nondiabetic dogs. This condition symptomatically resembles that of diabetes but usually goes unnoticed until a near-fatal situation is at hand. For this reason, it is important to understand the causes, symptoms and treatment options. How Canine Diabetic Ketoacidosis Develops Under normal conditions, the pancreas is responsible for producing insulin, which helps to regulate the level of glucose in the blood cells. When the pancreas is ineffectively able to create enough insulin, a dog becomes diabetic. By default, a dog's body will begin looking for alternative fuel sources, such as fat. The problem is that when too much fat is consumed by the body, the liver then begins to produce ketones. This excessive level of ketones causes the condition known as canine diabetic ketoacidosis. There are two scenarios in which this can occur: in dogs with poorly controlled diabetes and in dogs with undiagnosed diabetes. Recognizing the Symptoms Because of the potentially deadly side effects, it is crucially important that dog owners be aware of the symptoms of canine diabetic ketoacidosis. One of the more common problems associated with this illness is the extreme similarity of the warning signs to a diabetic condition. While both conditions are harmful, canine diabetic ketoacidosis represents the last step taken by the body before it surrenders to the condition. The following are some of the recognizable symptoms of canine diabetic ketoacidosis: Drinking or urinating more than usual Sudden, excessive weight loss attributed to loss of appetite General fatigue Vomiting Sudden on 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 >>
Viewer Comments: Diabetic Ketoacidosis - Symptoms
I didn't know anything about diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) until I was admitted into the ICU. Learning about DKA now, I've had moderate DKA on and off for years. I thought my vomiting, stomach pain were the result of metformin and switched to Invokana. I experienced extreme weight loss and dehydration but thought these were normal (Invokana shown to help diabetics lose weight). I have been under extreme financial and emotional stress for the past few years as well. What I would want others to know is that it is difficult to identify DKA from medication side effects; until DKA is at the ICU level. I was given so much potassium and other electrolytes. Stress is also a huge factor for me. While in the ICU my ex-husband (knowing I was in the ICU) started more harassment. The nurses documented an over 100 jump in my blood sugar after a phone call to deal with the harassment. I've started tracking stress and my blood sugar. It is impossible to get control of my blood sugar during high stress. If I add more insulin, I have a dangerous crash later. Keeping a calm environment as much as I can helps. I have type 2 diabetes. I gave myself more than 300 shots. My doctor put me on metformin. This takes the place of insulin shots. There are three different doses. What made it for me was 850 mg per meal. I count my carbohydrates, 60 per meal, and take my pill. I have seen here, folks that have 200, 300, 695 mg/dl of glucose. It is tough to manage, but if you keep to it, you will do well. Check the bottoms of your feet daily. If you are ticklish, you are doing fine. Give up cakes, pies, ice cream and other things high in carbohydrates. If you do, you will be fine. By the way, my average glucose reading is less than 120. Set that as your goal. Have good days! I have been having really dif 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 >>
How Long Does Diabetic Coma Last And How Is It Treated?
When immediately attended and given the right treatment, the diabetic patient can be quickly wakened up from the diabetic coma. Late attention to diabetic coma might take more glucose to be given to the person for better healing. The diabetic coma is connected to the metabolic abnormalities which forces the diabetic patient to the coma. If the diabetic patient stays in the coma for longer periods of time or if the patient is unattended for long time, permanant brain damage may take place or in rare instances it may lead to death of the patient. What is the Prognosis or Outlook for Diabetic Coma? Diabetic coma can be fatal. Late attention may prolong the period of treatment. A person who has been treated for long for diabetic coma is recorded to experience a brain damage. This is a dire situation but can be avoided by taking precautionary measures. Remain alert and aware to save yourself from diabetic coma. Manage your diabetic syndromes effectively to save your life. Even after the sugar level is normalized in a person, he or she will still experience nervous disorders like seizures or talking problems. Problems still persists even after recovering from diabetic coma. The recovery time cannot be predicted and depends on individual case. When immediately attended and given glucose biscuits, a person can be quickly wakened up. Late attention might take more glucose to be given to the person for better healing. Consult your doctor and take necessary guidelines on how to prevent any incident of diabetic coma or any other complexities if you are diabetic. Your doctor may prescribe you tests to determine the exact "dos and don'ts" to you on how to manage diabetes. Diabetic coma is caused by three major reasons: Severe hypolgycemia i.e., low blood sugar level Diabetic ketoacid Continue reading >>
‘i Was 26 And Most Type 1 Diabetics Are Diagnosed In Childhood': The Deadly Danger Too Many Diabetics Aren't Warned About
Hannah Postles discovered she had type 1 diabetes after going to A&E with blurred vision. It wasn’t her only symptom. For the previous three weeks, she’d been thirsty, drinking two bottles of water at lunch, had lost weight and felt run down. Scroll down for video ‘My boss suggested I might have diabetes after looking up my symptoms online, but my GP seemed to dismiss it because of my age,’ says Hannah, a press officer for the University of Sheffield. ‘I was 26 and most type 1 diabetics are diagnosed in childhood.’ Luckily, Hannah spoke to a doctor friend who told her to go to A&E, where she was tested for diabetes, and immediately put on an insulin drip. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t make insulin, the hormone that regulates glucose levels in the blood. Typically, people with type 1 diabetes are diagnosed around the age of 12 — although occasionally adults are diagnosed in later life. Type 2 diabetes, which can be diagnosed at any age, occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or the insulin itself does not work properly. Not only did Hannah have diabetes, her blood sugar levels were so out of control by the time she was diagnosed that she had developed diabetic ketoacidosis, a life-threatening condition when blood glucose levels remain persistently high for days or weeks. The condition can be caused by illness or infection or by the mismanagement of diabetes — which, as Hannah, now 29, discovered, can be the result of not knowing you have it. Symptoms include vomiting, headaches, abdominal pain and, if left too long, coma and even death. Had Hannah not gone to A&E, she might have died. In July 2012, new mother Nicky Rigby, 26, from the Wirral, did die from undiagnosed type 1 diabetes. She’d assumed her chronic tiredness a Continue reading >>
Diabetic Ketoacidosis: A Silent Death.
Abstract Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) results from severe insulin deficiency and can be diagnosed at autopsy despite no known history of the disease. Diabetic ketoacidosis may be the initial manifestation of type 1 diabetes or may result from increased insulin requirement in type 1 diabetic patients. The purpose of this study was to determine the percentage of DKA death investigated by the Office of Chief Medical Examiner that was not associated with a known history of diabetes.Cases investigated by the Office of Chief Medical Examiner during a 6-year period whose cause of death was DKA were identified using a centralized database. To determine the percentage with known history of diabetes, investigation reports were reviewed for any documentation of this history. The toxicology reports of all DKA deaths were reviewed together with histologic slides, if available, for possible microscopic changes. Concentrations of vitreous glucose, vitreous acetone, and blood acetone were used to diagnose DKA in these autopsied cases.Nearly a third of all death from DKA (32 of 92 during a 6-year period) occurred in individuals who had no known history of diabetes, emphasizing the importance of regular physicals that include a check of glucose concentration, and especially if any warning signs are present. In a case of sudden death, it is recommended that the volatile toxicology analysis at a medical examiner's office should include tests for acetone concentration, which when elevated, together with an elevated vitreous glucose, indicates DKA. 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 >>
Diabetes In The Emergency Department And Hospital: Acute Care Of Diabetes Patients
Go to: Hyperglycemic Crisis: DKA and HHS Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) accounts for more than 110,000 hospitalizations annually in the United States, with mortality ranging from 2 to 10%4–6. Hyperglycemic hyperosmolar state (HHS) is much less common but confers a much greater mortality7. Patients with DKA classically present with uncontrolled hyperglycemia, metabolic acidosis, and increased total body ketone concentration. On the other hand, HHS is defined by altered mental status caused by hyperosmolality, profound dehydration, and severe hyperglycemia without significant ketoacidosis6,8. Initial evaluation In the Emergency Department, the primary goals are rapid evaluation and stabilization. All patients with severe hyperglycemia should immediately undergo assessment and stabilization of their airway and hemodynamic status, with consideration of administration of naloxone for all patients with altered mentation to reverse potential opiate overdose, and thiamine for all patients at risk for Wernicke’s encephalopathy. In cases requiring intubation, the paralytic succinylcholine should not be used if hyperkalemia is suspected as it may acutely further elevate potassium. Immediate assessment should also include placing patients on oxygen, measure O2 saturation and cardiac monitoring as well as obtaining vital signs, a fingerstick glucose, intravenous (IV) access, and a 12-lead electrocardiogram to evaluate for arrhythmias and signs of hyper-and hypokalemia. Emergency Department evaluation should include a thorough clinical history and physical examination, as well as a venous blood gas,9,10 complete blood count, basic metabolic panel, and urinalysis; a urine pregnancy test must be sent for all women with childbearing potential. An important goal of this evaluation is id 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 >>
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 >>
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 >>