What The Heck Is Ketoacidosis?
By Gary Scheiner MS, CDE 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 can kill you. The primary cause of DKA is a lack of working insulin in the body. Let me explain. Normal Fuel Metabolism 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. As you can tell, 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 (see figure below). Abnormal Fuel Metabolism What would happen if you had no insulin? I’m not talking about a minor under-dosage; I’m talking about having none whatsoever. A number of things would start to go wrong. 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, leads to th Continue reading >>
Ketoacidosis During A Low-carbohydrate Diet
To the Editor: It is believed that low-carbohydrate diets work best in reducing weight when producing ketosis.1 We report on a 51-year-old white woman who does not have diabetes but had ketoacidosis while consuming a “no-carbohydrate” diet. There was no family history of diabetes, and she was not currently taking any medications. While adhering to a regimen of carbohydrate restriction, she reached a stable weight of 59.1 kg, a decrease from 72.7 kg. After several months of stable weight, she was admitted to the hospital four times with vomiting but without abdominal pain. On each occasion, she reported no alcohol use. Her body-mass index (the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters) was 26.7 before the weight loss and 21.7 afterward. Laboratory evaluation showed anion-gap acidosis, ketonuria, and elevated plasma glucose concentrations on three of the four occasions (Table 1). She had normal concentrations of plasma lactate and glycosylated hemoglobin. Screening for drugs, including ethyl alcohol and ethylene glycol, was negative. Abdominal ultrasonography showed hepatic steatosis. On each occasion, the patient recovered after administration of intravenous fluids and insulin, was prescribed insulin injections on discharge, and gradually reduced the use of insulin and then discontinued it while remaining euglycemic for six months or more between episodes. Testing for antibodies against glutamic acid decarboxylase and antinuclear antibodies was negative. Values on lipid studies were as follows: serum triglycerides, 102 mg per deciliter; high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, 50 mg per deciliter; and calculated low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, 189 mg per deciliter. The patient strictly adhered to a low-carbohydrate diet for four Continue reading >>
Alcoholic ketoacidosis is a metabolic complication of alcohol use and starvation characterized by hyperketonemia and anion gap metabolic acidosis without significant hyperglycemia. Alcoholic ketoacidosis causes nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Diagnosis is by history and findings of ketoacidosis without hyperglycemia. Treatment is IV saline solution and dextrose infusion. Alcoholic ketoacidosis is attributed to the combined effects of alcohol and starvation on glucose metabolism. Alcohol diminishes hepatic gluconeogenesis and leads to decreased insulin secretion, increased lipolysis, impaired fatty acid oxidation, and subsequent ketogenesis, causing an elevated anion gap metabolic acidosis. Counter-regulatory hormones are increased and may further inhibit insulin secretion. Plasma glucose levels are usually low or normal, but mild hyperglycemia sometimes occurs. Diagnosis requires a high index of suspicion; similar symptoms in an alcoholic patient may result from acute pancreatitis, methanol or ethylene glycol poisoning, or diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). In patients suspected of having alcoholic ketoacidosis, serum electrolytes (including magnesium), BUN and creatinine, glucose, ketones, amylase, lipase, and plasma osmolality should be measured. Urine should be tested for ketones. Patients who appear significantly ill and those with positive ketones should have arterial blood gas and serum lactate measurement. The absence of hyperglycemia makes DKA improbable. Those with mild hyperglycemia may have underlying diabetes mellitus, which may be recognized by elevated levels of glycosylated Hb (HbA1c). Typical laboratory findings include a high anion gap metabolic acidosis, ketonemia, and low levels of potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Detection of acidosis may be com Continue reading >>
Acute Complications Of Diabetes - Diabetic Ketoacidosis
- [Voiceover] Oftentimes we think of diabetes mellitus as a chronic disease that causes serious complications over a long period of time if it's not treated properly. However, the acute complications of diabetes mellitus are often the most serious, and can be potentially even life threatening. Let's discuss one of the acute complications of diabetes, known as diabetic ketoacidosis, or DKA for short, which can occur in individuals with type 1 diabetes. Now recall that type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder. And as such, there's an autoimmune destruction of the beta cells in the pancreas, which prevents the pancreas from producing and secreting insulin. Therefore, there is an absolute insulin deficiency in type 1 diabetes. But what exactly does this mean for the body? To get a better understanding, let's think about insulin requirements as a balancing act with energy needs. Now the goal here is to keep the balance in balance. As the energy requirements of the body go up, insulin is needed to take the glucose out of the blood and store it throughout the body. Normally in individuals without type 1 diabetes, the pancreas is able to produce enough insulin to keep up with any amount of energy requirement. But how does this change is someone has type 1 diabetes? Well since their pancreas cannot produces as much insulin, they have an absolute insulin deficiency. Now for day-to-day activities, this may not actually cause any problems, because the small amount of insulin that is produced is able to compensate and keep the balance in balance. However, over time, as type 1 diabetes worsens, and less insulin is able to be produced, then the balance becomes slightly unequal. And this results in the sub-acute or mild symptoms of type 1 diabetes such as fatigue, because the body isn Continue reading >>
Diabetic Ketoacidosis (dka)
Snap Shot A 12 year old boy, previously healthy, is admitted to the hospital after 2 days of polyuria, polyphagia, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Vital signs are: Temp 37C, BP 103/63 mmHg, HR 112, RR 30. Physical exam shows a lethargic boy. Labs are notable for WBC 16,000, Glucose 534, K 5.9, pH 7.13, PCO2 is 20 mmHg, PO2 is 90 mmHg. Introduction Complication of type I diabetes result of ↓ insulin, ↑ glucagon, growth hormone, catecholamine Precipitated by infections drugs (steroids, thiazide diuretics) noncompliance pancreatitis undiagnosed DM Presentation Symptoms abdominal pain vomiting Physical exam Kussmaul respiration increased tidal volume and rate as a result of metabolic acidosis fruity, acetone odor severe hypovolemia coma Evaluation Serology blood glucose levels > 250 mg/dL due to ↑ gluconeogenesis and glycogenolysis arterial pH < 7.3 ↑ anion gap due to ketoacidosis, lactic acidosis ↓ HCO3- consumed in an attempt to buffer the increased acid hyponatremia dilutional hyponatremia glucose acts as an osmotic agent and draws water from ICF to ECF hyperkalemia acidosis results in ICF/ECF exchange of H+ for K+ moderate ketonuria and ketonemia due to ↑ lipolysis β-hydroxybutyrate > acetoacetate β-hydroxybutyrate not detected with normal ketone body tests hypertriglyceridemia due to ↓ in capillary lipoprotein lipase activity activated by insulin leukocytosis due to stress-induced cortisol release H2PO4- is increased in urine, as it is titratable acid used to buffer the excess H+ that is being excreted Treatment Fluids Insulin with glucose must prevent resultant hypokalemia and hypophosphatemia labs may show pseudo-hyperkalemia prior to administartion of fluid and insulin due to transcellular shift of potassium out of the cells to balance the H+ be Continue reading >>
Diabetic Ketoacidosis (dka)
Tweet Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a dangerous complication faced by people with diabetes which happens when the body starts running out of insulin. DKA is most commonly associated with type 1 diabetes, however, people with type 2 diabetes that produce very little of their own insulin may also be affected. Ketoacidosis is a serious short term complication which can result in coma or even death if it is not treated quickly. Read about Diabetes and Ketones What is diabetic ketoacidosis? DKA occurs when the body has insufficient insulin to allow enough glucose to enter cells, and so the body switches to burning fatty acids and producing acidic ketone bodies. A high level of ketone bodies in the blood can cause particularly severe illness. Symptoms of DKA Diabetic ketoacidosis may itself be the symptom of undiagnosed type 1 diabetes. Typical symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis include: Vomiting Dehydration An unusual smell on the breath –sometimes compared to the smell of pear drops Deep laboured breathing (called kussmaul breathing) or hyperventilation Rapid heartbeat Confusion and disorientation Symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis usually evolve over a 24 hour period if blood glucose levels become and remain too high (hyperglycemia). Causes and risk factors for diabetic ketoacidosis As noted above, DKA is caused by the body having too little insulin to allow cells to take in glucose for energy. This may happen for a number of reasons including: Having blood glucose levels consistently over 15 mmol/l Missing insulin injections If a fault has developed in your insulin pen or insulin pump As a result of illness or infections High or prolonged levels of stress Excessive alcohol consumption DKA may also occur prior to a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. Ketoacidosis can occasional Continue reading >>
Ketones in the urine, as detected by urine testing stix or a blood ketone testing meter, may indicate the beginning of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a dangerous and often quickly fatal condition caused by low insulin levels combined with certain other systemic stresses. DKA can be fixed if caught quickly. Diabetics of all species therefore need to be checked for ketones with urine testing stix, available at any pharmacy, whenever insulin level may be too low, and any of the following signs or triggers are present: Ketone Monitoring Needed: Little or no insulin in last 12 hours High blood sugar over 16 mmol/L or 300 mg/dL (though with low insulin, lower as well...) Dehydration (skin doesn't jump back after pulling a bit gums are tacky or dry) Not eating for over 12 hours due to Inappetance or Fasting Vomiting Lethargy Infection or illness High stress levels Breath smells like acetone (nail-polish remover) or fruit. Note that the triggers and signs are somewhat interchangeable because ketoacidosis is, once begun, a set of vicious circles which will make itself worse. So dehydration, hyperglycemia, fasting, and presence of ketones are not only signs, they're also sometimes triggers. In a diabetic, any urinary ketones above trace, or any increase in urinary ketone level, or trace urinary ketones plus some of the symptoms above, are cause to call an emergency vet immediately, at any hour of the day. Possible False Urine Ketone Test Results Drugs and Supplements Valproic Acid (brand names) Depakene, Depakote, Divalproex Sodium Positive. Common use: Treatment of epilepsy. Cefixime/Suprax Positive with nitroprusside-based urine testing. Common use: Antibiotic. Levadopa Metabolites Positive with high concentrations. Tricyclic Ring Compounds Positive. Commo Continue reading >>
What Is Diabetic Ketoacidosis?
Diabetic ketoacidosis is a serious condition characterized by high blood sugar (hyperglycemia), low insulin, and the presence of moderate to large amounts of ketones in the blood. It's a medical emergency that requires treatment in a hospital. If not treated in a timely fashion, ketoacidosis can lead to coma and death. While diabetic ketoacidosis (or DKA) is much more common among people with type 1 diabetes, it can also occur in people with type 2 diabetes, so ketone monitoring is something everyone with diabetes should understand. Diabetic Ketoacidosis Symptoms Signs and symptoms of ketoacidosis include: Thirst or a very dry mouth Frequent urination Fatigue and weakness Nausea Vomiting Dry or flushed skin Abdominal pain Deep breathing A fruity breath odor What Are Ketones? Ketones, or ketone bodies, are acidic byproducts of fat metabolism. It's normal for everyone to have a small amount of ketones in the bloodstream, and after a fast of 12 to16 hours, there may be detectable amounts in the urine. As is the case with glucose, if blood levels of ketones get too high, they spill over into the urine. An elevated level of ketones in the blood is known as ketosis. People who follow low-carbohydrate diets often speak of ketosis as a desirable state — it's evidence that their bodies are burning fat, not carbohydrate. But the level of ketosis that results from low carbohydrate consumption isn't harmful and is much lower than the level seen in diabetic ketoacidosis. When Should Ketones Be Monitored? Ketone monitoring is less of a concern for people with type 2 diabetes than for those with type 1 diabetes. This is because most people with type 2 diabetes still make some of their own insulin, making diabetic ketoacidosis less likely to develop. Nonetheless, people with type 2 d Continue reading >>
Can Diabetes Kill You?
Here’s what you need to know about the life-threatening diabetes complication called diabetic ketoacidosis. Diabetic ketoacidosis is one of the most serious complications of diabetes. Symptoms can take you by surprise, coming on in just 24 hours or less. Without diabetic ketoacidosis treatment, you will fall into a coma and die. “Every minute that the person is not treated is [another] minute closer to death,” says Joel Zonszein, MD, professor of medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. Diabetic ketoacidosis occurs when your body doesn’t produce enough insulin. (Diabetic ketoacidosis most often affects people with type 1 diabetes, but there is also type 2 diabetes ketoacidosis.) Without insulin, sugar can’t be stored in your cells to be used as energy and builds up in your blood instead. Your body has to go to a back-up energy system: fat. In the process of breaking down fat for energy, your body releases fatty acids and acids called ketones. Ketones are an alternative form of energy for the body, and just having them in your blood isn’t necessarily harmful. That’s called ketosis, and it can happen when you go on a low-carb diet or even after fasting overnight. “When I put people on a restricted diet, I can get an estimate of how vigorously they’re pursuing it by the presence of ketones in the urine,” says Gerald Bernstein, MD, an endocrinologist and coordinator of the Friedman Diabetes Program at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. RELATED: The Ketogenic Diet Might Be the Next Big Weight Loss Trend, But Should You Try It? But too many ketones are a problem. “In individuals with diabetes who have no or low insulin production, there is an overproduction of ketones, and the kidneys can’t get rid of them fast enough,” sa Continue reading >>
Diabetic Ketoacidosis Symptoms
What is diabetic ketoacidosis? Diabetic ketoacidosis, also referred to as simply ketoacidosis or DKA, is a serious and even life-threatening complication of type 1 diabetes. DKA is rare in people with type 2 diabetes. DKA is caused when insulin levels are low and not enough glucose can get into the body's cells. Without glucose for energy, the body starts to burn fat for energy. Ketones are products that are created when the body burns fat. The buildup of ketones causes the blood to become more acidic. The high levels of blood glucose in DKA cause the kidneys to excrete glucose and water, leading to dehydration and imbalances in body electrolyte levels. Diabetic ketoacidosis most commonly develops either due to an interruption in insulin treatment or a severe illness, including the flu. What are the symptoms and signs of diabetic ketoacidosis? The development of DKA is usually a slow process. However, if vomiting develops, the symptoms can progress more rapidly due to the more rapid loss of body fluid. Excessive urination, which occurs because the kidneys try to rid the body of excess glucose, and water is excreted along with the glucose High blood glucose (sugar) levels The presence of ketones in the urine Other signs and symptoms of ketoacidosis occur as the condition progresses: These include: Fatigue, which can be severe Flushing of the skin Fruity odor to the breath, caused by ketones Difficulty breathing Type 2 Diabetes Diagnosis, Treatment, Medication What should I do if I think I may have, or someone I know may diabetic ketoacidosis? You should test your urine for ketones if you suspect you have early symptoms or warning signs of ketoacidosis. Call your health-care professional if your urine shows high levels of ketones. High levels of ketones and high blood sug Continue reading >>
Ketoacidosis is a metabolic state associated with high concentrations of ketone bodies, formed by the breakdown of fatty acids and the deamination of amino acids. The two common ketones produced in humans are acetoacetic acid and β-hydroxybutyrate. Ketoacidosis is a pathological metabolic state marked by extreme and uncontrolled ketosis. In ketoacidosis, the body fails to adequately regulate ketone production causing such a severe accumulation of keto acids that the pH of the blood is substantially decreased. In extreme cases ketoacidosis can be fatal. Ketoacidosis is most common in untreated type 1 diabetes mellitus, when the liver breaks down fat and proteins in response to a perceived need for respiratory substrate. Prolonged alcoholism may lead to alcoholic ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis can be smelled on a person's breath. This is due to acetone, a direct by-product of the spontaneous decomposition of acetoacetic acid. It is often described as smelling like fruit or nail polish remover. Ketosis may also give off an odor, but the odor is usually more subtle due to lower concentrations of acetone. Treatment consists most simply of correcting blood sugar and insulin levels, which will halt ketone production. If the severity of the case warrants more aggressive measures, intravenous sodium bicarbonate infusion can be given to raise blood pH back to an acceptable range. However, serious caution must be exercised with IV sodium bicarbonate to avoid the risk of equally life-threatening hypernatremia. Cause Three common causes of ketoacidosis are alcohol, starvation, and diabetes, resulting in alcoholic ketoacidosis, starvation ketoacidosis, and diabetic ketoacidosis respectively. In diabetic ketoacidosis, a high concentration of ketone bodies is usually accomp Continue reading >>
Figure 3. Timeline in DKA management. GCS:Glascow Coma Scale, CBC:Complete Blood Counting, ECG:Electrocardiogram, HR:Heart Rate, BP:Blood Pressure, BUN:Blood Urea Nitrogen, Cr: Creatinine, WBC:White Blood Cell, CRP:C-reactive protein, CE:Cerebral edema (adapted from reference 165) Figure 4. A 15 years old male patient firstly diagnosed T1DM with DKA infected by rhino-orbita-cerebral mucormycozis (Picture from the reference ) 1. Introduction A chronic autoimmune destruction of the pancreatic beta cells results in decreasing endogenous insulin secretion and the clinical manifestation of type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM). The clinical onset of the disease is often acute in children and adolescents and diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is present in 20-74% of the patients [1-7]. DKA is a serious condition that requiring immediate intervention. Even with appropriate intervention, DKA is associated with significant morbidity and possible mortality in diabetic patients in the pediatric age group . Young age and female sex have been associated with an increased frequency of DKA [3,9]. The triad of uncontrolled hyperglycemia, metabolic acidosis and increased total body ketone concentration characterizes DKA . In addition to possible acute complications, it may also influence the later outcome of diabetes . 2. Epidemiology Worldwide, an estimated 65 000 children under 15 years old develop T1DM each year, and the global incidence in children continues to increase at a rate of 3% a year [12,13]. The current incidence in the UK is around 26/100 000 per year . Patterson et al. were aimed to establish 15-year incidence trends for childhood T1DM in European centres with EURODIAB study. 29 311 new cases of T1DM were diagnosed in children before their 15th birthday during a 1 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 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. Your body needs a constant source of energy. When you have plenty of insulin, your body cells can get all the energy they need from glucose. If you don't have enough insulin in your blood, your liver is programmed to manufacture emergency fuels. These fuels, made from fat, are called ketones (or keto acids). In a pinch, ketones can give you energy. However, if your body stays dependent on ketones for energy for too long, you soon will become ill. Ketones are acidic chemicals that are toxic at high concentrations. In diabetic ketoacidosis, ketones build up in the blood, seriously altering the normal chemistry of the blood and interfering with the function of multiple organs. They make the blood acidic, which causes vomiting and abdominal pain. If the acid level of the blood becomes extreme, ketoacidosis can cause falling blood pressure, coma and death. Ketoacidosis is always accompanied by dehydration, which is caused by high Continue reading >>
Diabetic Ketoacidosis Clinical Presentation
History Insidious increased thirst (ie, polydipsia) and urination (ie, polyuria) are the most common early symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). Malaise, generalized weakness, and fatigability also can present as symptoms of DKA. Nausea and vomiting usually occur and may be associated with diffuse abdominal pain, decreased appetite, and anorexia. A history of rapid weight loss is a symptom in patients who are newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Patients may present with a history of failure to comply with insulin therapy or missed insulin injections due to vomiting or psychological reasons. Decreased perspiration is another possible symptom of DKA. Altered consciousness in the form of mild disorientation or confusion can occur. Although frank coma is uncommon, it may occur when the condition is neglected or if dehydration or acidosis is severe. Among the symptoms of DKA associated with possible intercurrent infection are fever, dysuria, coughing, malaise, chills, chest pain, shortness of breath, and arthralgia. Acute chest pain or palpitation may occur in association with myocardial infarction. Painless infarction is not uncommon in patients with diabetes and should always be suspected in elderly patients. A study by Crossen et al indicated that in children with type 1 diabetes, those who have had a recent emergency department visit and have undergone a long period without visiting an endocrinologist are more likely to develop DKA. The study included 5263 pediatric patients with type 1 diabetes.  Continue reading >>