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What Does Dka Feel Like

The Scary Experience Of Diabetic Ketoacidosis

The Scary Experience Of Diabetic Ketoacidosis

Today, we’re excited to share with you another guest blog from Katie Janowiak, who works for the Medtronic Foundation, our company’s philanthropic arm. When she first told me her story about food poisoning and Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA), I knew others could benefit from hearing it as well. Thanks Katie for your openness and allowing us to share your scary story so that the LOOP community can learn from it. Throughout this past year, I’ve had the honor of sharing with you, the amazing LOOP community, my personal journey and the often humorous sequence of events that is my life with T1. Humor is, after all, the best (and cheapest) therapy. Allow me to pause today to share with you the down and dirty of what it feels like to have something that is not the slightest bit humorous: diabetic ketoacidosis.You are hot. You are freezing. You are confused. You are blacked out but coherent. You go to talk but words fail you. Time flies and goes in slow motion simultaneously. You will likely smell and look like death. In my instance, this was brought on by the combination of excessive vomiting and dehydration caused by food poisoning and the diabetic ketoacidosis that followed after my body had gone through so much. In hindsight, I was lucky, my husband knew that I had food poisoning because I began vomiting after our meal. But I had never prepped him on diabetic ketoacidosis and the symptoms (because DKA was for those other diabetics.) Upon finding me in our living room with a bowl of blood and bile by my side (no, I am not exaggerating), he got me into the car and took me to emergency care. It was 5:30 p.m. – and I thought it was 11:00 a.m. The series of events that led up to my stay in the ICU began innocently enough. It was a warm summer night and my husband and I walke Continue reading >>

Diabetic Ketoacidosis (dka): Care Instructions

Diabetic Ketoacidosis (dka): Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) happens when the body does not have enough insulin and can't get the sugar it needs for energy. When the body can't use sugar for energy, it starts to use fat for energy. This process makes fatty acids called ketones. The ketones build up in the blood and change the chemical balance in your body. This problem can be very dangerous and needs to be treated. Without treatment, it can lead to a coma or death. DKA occurs most often in people with type 1 diabetes. But people with type 2 diabetes also can get it. DKA can be caused by many things. It can happen if you don't take enough insulin. It can also happen if you have an infection or illness like the flu. Sometimes it happens if you are very dehydrated. DKA can only be treated with insulin and fluids. These are often given in a vein (IV). Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take. How can you care for yourself at home? To reduce your chance of ketoacidosis: Take your insulin and other diabetes medicines on time and in the right dose. If an infection caused your DKA and your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics. Test your blood sugar before meals and at bedtime or as often as your doctor advises. This is the best way to know when your blood sugar is high so you can treat it early. Watching for symptoms is not as helpful. This is because you may not have symptoms until your blood sugar is very high. Or you may not notice them. Teach others a Continue reading >>

Topic Overview

Topic Overview

What is diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)? Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a life-threatening condition that develops when cells in the body are unable to get the sugar (glucose) they need for energy because there is not enough insulin. When the sugar cannot get into the cells, it stays in the blood. The kidneys filter some of the sugar from the blood and remove it from the body through urine. Because the cells cannot receive sugar for energy, the body begins to break down fat and muscle for energy. When this happens, ketones, or fatty acids, are produced and enter the bloodstream, causing the chemical imbalance (metabolic acidosis) called diabetic ketoacidosis. What causes DKA? Ketoacidosis can be caused by not getting enough insulin, having a severe infection or other illness, becoming severely dehydrated, or some combination of these things. It can occur in people who have little or no insulin in their bodies (mostly people with type 1 diabetes but it can happen with type 2 diabetes, especially children) when their blood sugar levels are high. What are the symptoms? Your blood sugar may be quite high before you notice symptoms, which include: Flushed, hot, dry skin. Blurred vision. Feeling thirsty and urinating a lot. Drowsiness or difficulty waking up. Young children may lack interest in their normal activities. Rapid, deep breathing. A strong, fruity breath odor. Loss of appetite, belly pain, and vomiting. Confusion. How is DKA diagnosed? Laboratory tests, including blood and urine tests, are used to confirm a diagnosis of diabetic ketoacidosis. Tests for ketones are available for home use. Keep some test strips nearby in case your blood sugar level becomes high. How is it treated? When ketoacidosis is severe, it must be treated in the hospital, often in an intensive care Continue reading >>

Diabetic Ketoacidosis (dka)

Diabetic Ketoacidosis (dka)

Topic Overview Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a life-threatening condition that develops when cells in the body are unable to get the sugar (glucose) they need for energy because there is not enough insulin. When the sugar cannot get into the cells, it stays in the blood. The kidneys filter some of the sugar from the blood and remove it from the body through urine. Because the cells cannot receive sugar for energy, the body begins to break down fat and muscle for energy. When this happens, ketones, or fatty acids, are produced and enter the bloodstream, causing the chemical imbalance (metabolic acidosis) called diabetic ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis can be caused by not getting enough insulin, having a severe infection or other illness, becoming severely dehydrated, or some combination of these things. It can occur in people who have little or no insulin in their bodies (mostly people with type 1 diabetes but it can happen with type 2 diabetes, especially children) when their blood sugar levels are high. Your blood sugar may be quite high before you notice symptoms, which include: Flushed, hot, dry skin. Blurred vision. Feeling thirsty and urinating a lot. Drowsiness or difficulty waking up. Young children may lack interest in their normal activities. Rapid, deep breathing. A strong, fruity breath odor. Loss of appetite, belly pain, and vomiting. Confusion. How is DKA diagnosed? Laboratory tests, including blood and urine tests, are used to confirm a diagnosis of diabetic ketoacidosis. Tests for ketones are available for home use. Keep some test strips nearby in case your blood sugar level becomes high. When ketoacidosis is severe, it must be treated in the hospital, often in an intensive care unit. Treatment involves giving insulin and fluids through your vein and closely Continue reading >>

Diabetic Ketoacidosis

Diabetic Ketoacidosis

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 >>

How To Prevent Diabetic Ketoacidosis

How To Prevent Diabetic Ketoacidosis

Diabetes, if not properly managed, can have nasty consequences, including vision loss, amputations, heart disease and stroke or kidney failure. Diabetic ketoacidosis, or DKA, is another one of those consequences, according to Dr. Linda Hermiller, an endocrinologist and diabetes expert at St. Elizabeth’s Regional Diabetes Center in Covington. Diabetes causes blood sugar levels to climb too high because the body either can’t make insulin in order to break down the sugar from food to fuel cell activity (Type 1 diabetes) or because the body can’t properly utilize the insulin it does have (Type 2). Over time, excessively high blood sugar levels lead to a host of complications. What is DKA? DKA occurs when the body starts breaking down stored fat for fuel because it can’t utilize insulin to break down sugar. When fat is metabolized, it produces chemicals called ketones that build up in the blood, and those ketones cause the blood to become acidic. High ketone levels are an indication that diabetes isn’t being properly managed. They’re also extremely dangerous. DKA, if not recognized and treated quickly, can be fatal, according to Dr. Hermiller. “DKA is an acute metabolic emergency that more commonly happens in patients with Type 1 diabetes, but in unique situations may occur in those with Type 2,” Dr. Hermiller said. Common causes of DKA In many cases, people develop DKA after a stomach bug or other illness; sometimes it occurs when people aren’t taking their insulin as directed, or they aren’t taking enough insulin, she said. Blood sugar levels rise sharply, and the body begins producing ketones. The best way to prevent DKA is good diabetes management, including checking blood sugar frequently. Guidelines call for checking for ketones in the urine (you ca Continue reading >>

Diabetic Ketoacidosis (dka)

Diabetic Ketoacidosis (dka)

Topic Overview What is diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)? Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a life-threatening condition that develops when cells in the body are unable to get the sugar (glucose) they need for energy because there is not enough insulin. When the sugar cannot get into the cells, it stays in the blood. The kidneys filter some of the sugar from the blood and remove it from the body through urine. Because the cells cannot receive sugar for energy, the body begins to break down fat and muscle for energy. When this happens, ketones, or fatty acids, are produced and enter the bloodstream, causing the chemical imbalance (metabolic acidosis) called diabetic ketoacidosis. What causes DKA? Ketoacidosis can be caused by not getting enough insulin, having a severe infection or other illness, becoming severely dehydrated, or some combination of these things. It can occur in people who have little or no insulin in their bodies (mostly people with type 1 diabetes but it can happen with type 2 diabetes, especially children) when their blood sugar levels are high. What are the symptoms? Your blood sugar may be quite high before you notice symptoms, which include: Flushed, hot, dry skin. Blurred vision. Feeling thirsty and urinating a lot. Drowsiness or difficulty waking up. Young children may lack interest in their normal activities. Rapid, deep breathing. A strong, fruity breath odor. Loss of appetite, belly pain, and vomiting. Confusion. How is DKA diagnosed? Laboratory tests, including blood and urine tests, are used to confirm a diagnosis of diabetic ketoacidosis. Tests for ketones are available for home use. Keep some test strips nearby in case your blood sugar level becomes high. How is it treated? When ketoacidosis is severe, it must be treated in the hospital, often in an Continue reading >>

7 Symptoms To Never Ignore If You Have Diabetes

7 Symptoms To Never Ignore If You Have Diabetes

If you have diabetes watch for these warning signs that something is amiss – and make sure you know how to respond #1. Blurry vision. Vision changes may mean your blood sugar is high, says endocrinologist Alan L. Rubin, MD, author of Diabetes for Dummies, Type 1 Diabetes for Dummies and other health books in the “Dummies” series. “High blood sugar draws more fluid into the lens of the eye, so your vision is less sharp,” he explains. “The first thing to do is to check your blood sugar more frequently and bring it under better control.” Temporary blurriness may also occur when starting insulin. What to do: If problems persist despite good glucose numbers, tell your doctor. Eyesight changes may be caused by an easy-to-fix problem like dry eyes, be a side effect of some medications or even computer eye strain. But it can also be a warning sign of diabetic retinopathy – when tiny blood vessels at the back of the eye swell and leak. It could also be a sign of other vision issues like glaucoma or age-related macular degeneration. All can be treated to prevent further problems. #2. Unusual thirst and feeling extra-tired. High blood sugar is usually the culprit, according to the American Diabetes Association. But don’t shrug it off —letting your numbers drift beyond the healthy range sets you up for complications and could be a sign of a serious condition that needs immediate medical attention. What to do: Check your glucose level now and recheck frequently; make sure you’re following your eating and exercise plan and taking your medication as directed. If you’ve been sick, follow your sick-day plan; illness can make blood sugar rise. Extremely high blood sugar – over 600 mg/dL – can lead to seizures, coma and even death, the ADA warns. This condition Continue reading >>

Diabetic Ketoacidosis (dka)

Diabetic Ketoacidosis (dka)

Topic Overview What is diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)? Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a life-threatening condition that develops when cells in the body are unable to get the sugar (glucose) they need for energy because there is not enough insulin. When the sugar cannot get into the cells, it stays in the blood. The kidneys filter some of the sugar from the blood and remove it from the body through urine. Because the cells cannot receive sugar for energy, the body begins to break down fat and muscle for energy. When this happens, ketones, or fatty acids, are produced and enter the bloodstream, causing the chemical imbalance (metabolic acidosis) called diabetic ketoacidosis. What causes DKA? Ketoacidosis can be caused by not getting enough insulin, having a severe infection or other illness, becoming severely dehydrated, or some combination of these things. It can occur in people who have little or no insulin in their bodies (mostly people with type 1 diabetes but it can happen with type 2 diabetes, especially children) when their blood sugar levels are high. What are the symptoms? Your blood sugar may be quite high before you notice symptoms, which include: Flushed, hot, dry skin. Blurred vision. Feeling thirsty and urinating a lot. Drowsiness or difficulty waking up. Young children may lack interest in their normal activities. Rapid, deep breathing. A strong, fruity breath odor. Loss of appetite, belly pain, and vomiting. Confusion. How is DKA diagnosed? Laboratory tests, including blood and urine tests, are used to confirm a diagnosis of diabetic ketoacidosis. Tests for ketones are available for home use. Keep some test strips nearby in case your blood sugar level becomes high. How is it treated? When ketoacidosis is severe, it must be treated in the hospital, often in an Continue reading >>

Diabetes Complications In Dogs And Cats: Diabetes Ketoacidosis (dka)

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 >>

What A Low Blood Sugar Feels Like

What A Low Blood Sugar Feels Like

Have you seen the video going viral on Facebook right now where four amazing women with type 1 diabetes talk about what low blood sugar feels like? I love this video, and it inspired me to think about what a low blood sugar feels like for me and to put it into words in this post. I think this is particularly useful for friends and family who may not know or understand what it’s like. Please watch the video and consider sharing this post with your loved ones if you feel that it helps explain how you feel when you have a low. No compatible source was found for this media. What low blood sugar feels like Trying to explain a feeling is always hard, and trying to explain something as unique as the feeling of low blood sugar (or hypoglycemia) is even harder. The physical aspects of a low are easier to describe, so let’s start with those. I almost always feel the signs of a low blood sugar before it becomes critical. I’ll feel it when my blood sugar is around 60 mg/dl (3 mmol/l). I’ll start shaking a little, my cognitive function goes out the window, I get weak, and I typically start sweating (these are the most common low blood sugar symptoms). A cup of juice or 2-3 glucose tabs will usually get me right back to normal pretty quickly and I’ll move on with my day. But when I don’t catch my symptoms before they get severe, and my sugars dip lower, then that’s a whole other story. This rarely happens during the day, since I can catch them before they get this bad, but it will sometimes happen in my sleep. I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and know it’s bad if I’ve had a stress dream (things will move excessively fast in my dream or I’ll be caught in a loop of some sort), I’m sweating profusely, and shaking. And then there’s the feeling! It an urge Continue reading >>

High Blood Sugar Emergencies

High Blood Sugar Emergencies

Blood sugar levels that are too high (hyperglycemia) can quickly turn into a diabetic emergency without quick and appropriate treatment. The best way to avoid dangerously high blood sugar levels is to self-test to stay in tune with your body, and to stay attuned to the symptoms and risk factors for hyperglycemia. Extremely high blood sugar levels can lead to one of two conditions—diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) and hyperglycemic hyperosmolar nonketotic syndrome (HHNS; also called hyperglycemic hyperosmolar nonketotic coma). Although both syndromes can occur in either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, DKA is more common in type 1, and HHNS is more common in type 2. Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA) Ketoacidosis (or DKA) occurs when blood sugars become elevated (over 249 mg/dl, or 13.9 mmol/l) over a period of time and the body begins to burn fat for energy, resulting in ketone bodies in the blood or urine (a phenomenon called ketosis). A variety of factors can cause hyperglycemia (high blood glucose), including failure to take medication or insulin, stress, dietary changes without medication adjustments, eating disorders, and illness or injury. This last cause is important, because if illness brings on DKA, it may slip by unnoticed, since its symptoms can mimic the flu (aches, vomiting, etc.). In fact, people with type 1 diabetes are often seeking help for the flu-like symptoms of DKA when they first receive their diagnosis. Symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis may include: fruity (acetone) breath nausea and/or vomiting abdominal pain dry, warm skin confusion fatigue breathing problems excessive thirst frequent urination in extreme cases, loss of consciousness DKA is a medical emergency, and requires prompt and immediate treatment. A simple over-the-counter urine dipstick test (e.g., Keto Continue reading >>

What A High Blood Sugar Feels Like.

What A High Blood Sugar Feels Like.

The American Diabetes Association cites the following symptoms as indicative of high blood sugar: High blood glucose [Editor’s note: Duh] High levels of sugar in the urine Frequent urination Increased thirst And if high blood sugar goes untreated? “Hyperglycemia can be a serious problem if you don’t treat it, so it’s important to treat as soon as you detect it. If you fail to treat hyperglycemia, a condition called ketoacidosis (diabetic coma) could occur. Ketoacidosis develops when your body doesn’t have enough insulin. Without insulin, your body can’t use glucose for fuel, so your body breaks down fats to use for energy. When your body breaks down fats, waste products called ketones are produced. Your body cannot tolerate large amounts of ketones and will try to get rid of them through the urine. Unfortunately, the body cannot release all the ketones and they build up in your blood, which can lead to ketoacidosis.” – ADA website But what does a high blood sugar feel like? Because when you see someone who is working through an elevated blood sugar, they may not look terribly out of sorts. But what is happening inside of them is real, and plays out in a myriad of ways for every person with diabetes. I’ve tried to write about it several times, but each high is different, and affects me in different ways: “It’s a thick feeling in the base of your brain, like someone’s cracked open your head and replaced your gray matter with sticky jam. I find myself zoning out and staring at things, and my eyeballs feel dry and like they’re tethered to my head by frayed ropes instead of optic nerves. Everything is slow and heavy and whipped with heavy cream.” – Oh, High! “There’s something about a high blood sugar that makes my body feel weighted down, l Continue reading >>

Is Diabetes Causing My Nausea?

Is Diabetes Causing My Nausea?

Nausea comes in many forms. Sometimes it can be mild and short-lived. Other times, it can be severe and last for a long time. For people with diabetes, nausea is a common complaint. It can even be a sign of a life-threatening condition that requires swift medical attention. 5 common causes of nausea Factors related to your diabetes may cause you to feel nausea. Medication Metformin (Glucophage) is one of the more common medications used to treat diabetes. Nausea is a potential side effect for people taking this medication. Taking metformin on an empty stomach may make nausea worse. Injectable medications used to treat diabetes, such as exenatide (Byetta), liraglutide (Victoza), and pramlintide (Symlin), may also cause nausea. The nausea may go away after extended use. Your doctor may also start you on a lower dosage to try to reduce or eliminate nausea. Hypo- and hyperglycemia Hyperglycemia (elevated blood sugar levels) or hypoglycemia (blood sugar levels that are too low) may cause nausea. Check your blood sugar and respond appropriately if you suspect abnormal blood sugar levels. To avoid hypo- and hyperglycemia, stick to your diabetes meal plan, monitor your blood sugar, and take your medication as prescribed. You should also avoid exercising in extreme temperatures and keep cool by drinking cold liquids during outside activities, advises Sheri Colberg, PhD, author, exercise physiologist, and expert on diabetes management. Diabetic ketoacidosis Severe nausea may be a sign of diabetic ketoacidosis. This is a dangerous medical condition that must be treated to avoid coma or even death. Symptoms include: nausea excessive thirst frequent urination abdominal pain weakness or fatigue shortness of breath confusion fruity-scented breath If you suspect diabetic ketoacidosis, Continue reading >>

Why Does Diabetes Cause Excessive Thirst?

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 >>

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