What You Should Know About Diabetic Ketoacidosis
Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a buildup of acids in your blood. It can happen when your blood sugar is too high for too long. It could be life-threatening, but it usually takes many hours to become that serious. You can treat it and prevent it, too. It usually happens because your body doesn't have enough insulin. Your cells can't use the sugar in your blood for energy, so they use fat for fuel instead. Burning fat makes acids called ketones and, if the process goes on for a while, they could build up in your blood. That excess can change the chemical balance of your blood and throw off your entire system. People with type 1 diabetes are at risk for ketoacidosis, since their bodies don't make any insulin. Your ketones can also go up when you miss a meal, you're sick or stressed, or you have an insulin reaction. DKA can happen to people with type 2 diabetes, but it's rare. If you have type 2, especially when you're older, you're more likely to have a condition with some similar symptoms called HHNS (hyperosmolar hyperglycemic nonketotic syndrome). It can lead to severe dehydration. Test your ketones when your blood sugar is over 240 mg/dL or you have symptoms of high blood sugar, such as dry mouth, feeling really thirsty, or peeing a lot. You can check your levels with a urine test strip. Some glucose meters measure ketones, too. Try to bring your blood sugar down, and check your ketones again in 30 minutes. Call your doctor or go to the emergency room right away if that doesn't work, if you have any of the symptoms below and your ketones aren't normal, or if you have more than one symptom. You've been throwing up for more than 2 hours. You feel queasy or your belly hurts. Your breath smells fruity. You're tired, confused, or woozy. You're having a hard time breathing. Continue reading >>
Electrolyte Imbalance In Diabetic Ketoacidosis
If you have diabetes, it's important to be familiar with diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). DKA is a serious complication of diabetes that occurs when lack of insulin and high blood sugar lead to potentially life-threatening chemical imbalances. The good news is DKA is largely preventable. Although DKA is more common with type 1 diabetes, it can also occur with type 2 diabetes. High blood sugar causes excessive urination and spillage of sugar into the urine. This leads to loss of body water and dehydration as well as loss of important electrolytes, including sodium and potassium. The level of another electrolyte, bicarbonate, also falls as the body tries to compensate for excessively acidic blood. Video of the Day Insulin helps blood sugar move into cells, where it is used for energy production. When insulin is lacking, cells must harness alternative energy by breaking down fat. Byproducts of this alternative process are called ketones. High concentrations of ketones acidify the blood, hence the term "ketoacidosis." Acidosis causes unpleasant symptoms like nausea, vomiting and rapid breathing. Bicarbonate is an electrolyte that normally counteracts blood acidity. In DKA, the bicarbonate level falls as ketone production increases and acidosis progresses. Treatment of DKA includes prompt insulin supplementation to lower blood sugar, which leads to gradual restoration of the bicarbonate level. Potassium may be low in DKA because this electrolyte is lost due to excessive urination or vomiting. When insulin is used to treat DKA, it can further lower the blood potassium by pushing it into cells. Symptoms associated with low potassium include fatigue, muscle weakness, muscle cramps and an irregular heart rhythm. Severely low potassium can lead to life-threatening heart rhythm abnorm Continue reading >>
Why Are Ebola Patients Escaping?
There is a great article called "Outbreaks of Filovirus Hemorrhagic Fever: Time to Refocus on the Patient." It's written by infectious disease specialists & Medecins Sans Frontieres doctors and is available (free, full text) here: Time to Refocus on the Patient They say that in recent years, outbreaks of hemorrhagic fevers like Ebola and Marburg have been hard to contain, that relatively few patients have been isolated, and that sometimes people resist disease control measures. They identify a number of reasons for this: Being admitted to an isolation ward and treated by strangers in space suits would be scary for anyone, but especially if you don't have much education and don't understand. Access to family is limited or denied. It's scary to think of dying alone or letting your loved one die alone. Health care workers are too focused on isolating patients as a measure to stop transmission in the community, and not focused enough on providing high-quality care to patients. If the isolation ward is seen as a death sentence, people then may decide to hide from health authorities (or hide their loved ones) or, worse, flee to another town where they have friends or relatives, which can start a new outbreak at a new site. There is a potential for substantially improving survival rates with supportive care, and they recommend making sure there is plenty of protective gear for health workers to enable them to safely provide care, and then to be more aggressive with supportive care ("close attention to fluid and electrolyte balance and greater attention to nutrition, pain control, and secondary infection...supportive drugs should be made available, such as intravenous fluids, potassium, blood products, antiemectics, analgesics, and pressor agents.") The article addresses the pe Continue reading >>
Diabetes Update: Acute Complications
"Diabetes update: Acute complications" CE credit is no longer available for this article. Originally posted April 2001 MARJORIE CYPRESS, MS, C-ANP, CDE MARJORIE CYPRESS is a nurse practitioner and certified diabetes educator for Lovelace Health Systems, Albuquerque, N.M. Series Editor: Carolyn Robertson, RN, MSN, CDE KEY WORDS: acute complications, hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, diabetic ketoacidosis, hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state, ketosis Critically high or low blood sugar in a patient with diabetes is a medical emergency. You'll need to be able to quickly identify and know how to manage the acute complications of diabetes to help a patient avoid a tragic outcome. Here's how. Jump to: Choose article section... Emergency treatment of acute complications of diabetes demands quick recognition of the problem and immediate intervention. High blood sugar can progress to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) in Type 1 diabetics, and hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state (HHS) in those with Type 2. But every diabetic patient taking a hypoglycemic agent is at risk for hypoglycemia, the most common—and most feared—complication. Here we'll review the pathophysiology behind DKA, HHS, and hypoglycemia; provide assessments that help distinguish one complication from another; and discuss emergency treatments and nursing strategies that can prevent a potentially fatal outcome. Too much sugar, too little insulin DKA, often referred to as diabetic coma, occurs when there's a profound lack of insulin in the body. Without insulin, the body can't use glucose for fuel. Cells starve as sugar accumulates. The blood becomes thick with sugar, which promotes osmotic diuresis. As the body loses water, the excess sugar spills into the urine, taking important electrolytes with it. Patients become thirsty and Continue reading >>
Diabetic Ketoacidosis Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, And Complications
Diabetic ketoacidosis definition and facts Diabetic ketoacidosis is a life-threatening complication of type 1 diabetes (though rare, it can occur in people with type 2 diabetes) that occurs when the body produces high levels of ketones due to lack of insulin. Diabetic ketoacidosis occurs when the body cannot produce enough insulin. The signs and symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis include Risk factors for diabetic ketoacidosis are type 1 diabetes, and missing insulin doses frequently, or being exposed to a stressor requiring higher insulin doses (infection, etc). Diabetic ketoacidosis is diagnosed by an elevated blood sugar (glucose) level, elevated blood ketones and acidity of the blood (acidosis). The treatment for diabetic ketoacidosis is insulin, fluids and electrolyte therapy. Diabetic ketoacidosis can be prevented by taking insulin as prescribed and monitoring glucose and ketone levels. The prognosis for a person with diabetic ketoacidosis depends on the severity of the disease and the other underlying medical conditions. Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a severe and life-threatening complication of diabetes. Diabetic ketoacidosis occurs when the cells in our body do not receive the sugar (glucose) they need for energy. This happens while there is plenty of glucose in the bloodstream, but not enough insulin to help convert glucose for use in the cells. The body recognizes this and starts breaking down muscle and fat for energy. This breakdown produces ketones (also called fatty acids), which cause an imbalance in our electrolyte system leading to the ketoacidosis (a metabolic acidosis). The sugar that cannot be used because of the lack of insulin stays in the bloodstream (rather than going into the cell and provide energy). The kidneys filter some of the glucose (suga Continue reading >>
The Emedicinehealth Doctors Ask About Diabetic Ketoacidosis:
A A A Diabetic Ketoacidosis (cont.) A person developing diabetic ketoacidosis may have one or more of these symptoms: excessive thirst or drinking lots of fluid, frequent urination, general weakness, vomiting, loss of appetite, confusion, abdominal pain, shortness of breath, a generally ill appearance, increased heart rate, low blood pressure, increased rate of breathing, and a distinctive fruity odor on the breath. If you have any form of diabetes, contact your doctor when you have very high blood sugars (generally more than 350 mg) or moderate elevations that do not respond to home treatment. At initial diagnosis your doctor should have provided you with specific rules for dosing your medication(s) and for checking your urinary ketone level whenever you become ill. If not, ask your health care practitioner to provide such "sick day rules." If you have diabetes and start vomiting, seek immediate medical attention. If you have diabetes and develop a fever, contact your health care practitioner. If you feel sick, check your urinary ketone levels with home test strips. If your urinary ketones are moderate or higher, contact your health care practitioner. People with diabetes should be taken to a hospital's emergency department if they appear significantly ill, dehydrated, confused, or very weak. Other reasons to seek immediate medical treatment include shortness of breath, chest pain, severe abdominal pain with vomiting, or high fever (above 101 F or 38.3 C). Continue Reading A A A Diabetic Ketoacidosis (cont.) The diagnosis of diabetic ketoacidosis is typically made after the health care practitioner obtains a history, performs a physical examination, and reviews the laboratory tests. Blood tests will be ordered to document the levels of sugar, potassium, sodium, and oth Continue reading >>
Infection As A Trigger Of Diabetic Ketoacidosis In Intensive Care—unit Patients
Together with hyperglycemic coma, diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is the most severe acute metabolic complication of diabetes mellitus [ 1 ]. Defined by the triad hyperglycemia, acidosis, and ketonuria, DKA can be inaugural or complicate known diabetes [ 2 ]. Although DKA is evidence of poor metabolic control and usually indicates an absolute or relative imbalance between the patient's requirements and the treatment, DKA-related mortality is low among patients who receive standardized treatment, which includes administration of insulin, correction of hydroelectrolytic disorders, and management of the triggering factor (which is often cessation of insulin therapy, an infection, or a myocardial infarction) [ 3–8 ]. Although there is no proof that diabetics are more susceptible to infection, they seem to have more difficulty handling infection once it occurs [ 9 , 10 ]. Indeed, several aspects of immunity are altered in diabetic patients: polymorphonuclear leukocyte function is depressed, particularly when acidosis is present, and leukocyte adherence, chemotaxis, phagocytosis, and bactericidal activity may also be impaired [ 11–15 ]. Joshi et al. [ 10 ] reported recently on the lack of clinical evidence that diabetics are more susceptible to infection than nondiabetic patients. Nevertheless, infection is a well-recognized trigger of DKA. Earlier studies have investigated the prevalence of infection as a trigger of DKA and the impact of antimicrobial treatment [ 2 , 15–18 ]. However, none of these studies were of intensive care unit (ICU) patients only. Furthermore, most were descriptive, included small numbers of patients, used univariate analysis only, and did not designate infection as the sole outcome variable of interest. Efforts to identify correlates of infection h Continue reading >>
Diabetic Emergencies, Part 5: Dka Case Studies
Case Study 1 A 32-year-old male with type 1 diabetes since the age of 14 years was taken to the emergency room because of drowsiness, fever, cough, diffuse abdominal pain, and vomiting. Fever and cough started 2 days ago and the patient could not eat or drink water. He has been treated with an intensive insulin regimen (insulin glargine 24 IU at bedtime and a rapid-acting insulin analog before each meal). On examination he was tachypneic, his temperature was 39° C (102.2° F), pulse rate 104 beats per minute, respiratory rate 24 breaths per minute, supine blood pressure 100/70 mmHg; he also had dry mucous membranes, poor skin turgor, and rales in the right lower chest. He was slightly confused. Rapid hematology and biochemical tests showed hematocrit 48%, hemoglobin 14.3 g/dl (143 g/L), white blood cell count 18,000/ μ l, glucose 450 mg/dl (25.0 mmol/L), urea 60 mg/dl (10.2 mmol/L), creatinine 1.4 mg/dl (123.7 μ mol/L), Na+ 152 mEq/L, K+ 5.3 mEq/L, PO4 3−2.3 mEq/L (0.74 mmol/L), and Cl− 110 mmol/L. Arterial pH was 6.9, PO 2 95 mmHg, PCO 2 28 mmHg, HCO 3−9 mEq/L, and O 2 sat 98%. The result of the strip for ketone bodies in urine was strongly positive and the concentration of β-OHB in serum was 3.5 mmol/L. Urinalysis showed glucose 800 mg/dl and specific gravity 1030. What is your diagnosis? The patient has hyperglycemia, ketosis, and metabolic acidosis. Therefore, he has DKA. In addition, because of the pre-existing fever, cough, localized rales on auscultation and high white blood cell count, a respiratory tract infection should be considered. The patient is also dehydrated and has impaired renal function. Do you need more tests to confirm the diagnosis? Determination of the effective serum osmolality and anion gap should be performed in all patients presenti Continue reading >>
What You Should Know About Diabetic Ketoacidosis
Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a serious condition that can occur in diabetes. DKA happens when acidic substances, called ketones, build up in your body. Ketones are formed when your body burns fat for fuel instead of sugar, or glucose. That can happen if you don’t have enough insulin in your body to help you process sugars. Learn more: Ketosis vs. ketoacidosis: What you should know » Left untreated, ketones can build up to dangerous levels. DKA can occur in people who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, but it’s rare in people with type 2 diabetes. DKA can also develop if you are at risk for diabetes, but have not received a formal diagnosis. It can be the first sign of type 1 diabetes. DKA is a medical emergency. Call your local emergency services immediately if you think you are experiencing DKA. Symptoms of DKA can appear quickly and may include: frequent urination extreme thirst high blood sugar levels high levels of ketones in the urine nausea or vomiting abdominal pain confusion fruity-smelling breath a flushed face fatigue rapid breathing dry mouth and skin It is important to make sure you consult with your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms. If left untreated, DKA can lead to a coma or death. All people who use insulin should discuss the risk of DKA with their healthcare team, to make sure a plan is in place. If you think you are experiencing DKA, seek immediate medical help. Learn more: Blood glucose management: Checking for ketones » If you have type 1 diabetes, you should maintain a supply of home urine ketone tests. You can use these to test your ketone levels. A high ketone test result is a symptom of DKA. If you have type 1 diabetes and have a glucometer reading of over 250 milligrams per deciliter twice, you should test your urine for keton Continue reading >>
Clinical Features Of Diabetic Ketoacidosis
Clinical presentation of DKA may vary according to the severity and comorbid conditions. The symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) usually develop rapidly over 1 day or less and may include: polyuria with polydipsia – commonest presenting symptom weight loss fatigue dyspnea vomiting preceding febrile illness abdominal pain polyphagia Patients may have tachycardia, poor skin turgor, dry mucous membranes, and orthostatic hypotension due to dehydration (1). Deep (Kussmaul) respirations are seen as a compensatory mechanism for metabolic acidosis (1) If severely ill, extreme cases may progress to shock, oliguria and anuria. The breath may have a distinctive fruity smell - ketotic breath; however the ability to detect this smell is absent is a sizeable proportion of the population - and, by extrapolation, the medical population. Mental status of patient may vary from confusion, drowsiness, progressive obtundation to loss of consciousness and coma (1,2) Note: nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain that may mimic an acute abdominal condition DKA may rarely be precipitated by sepsis, and fever is not part of DKA Reference: Continue reading >>
Why Are Diabetic Patients Thirsty?
Thirst that you don’t seem to quench is a symptom of diabetes, a condition in which your body does not produce enough insulin or does not use it properly. It causes too much sugar (called glucose) to build up in your body. Too much of it in your urine draws in more water, so you pee more often. That leaves your body wanting to replace the liquid you're missing. When glucose is hyper-concentrated in the bloodstream, typically around 200 mg / dl - although this number varies from person to person, your kidney loses the ability to re-take glucose out of the water. Under normal circumstances, almost all glucose is extracted from the urine and back to the body (as is most of the water, although this depends on how hydrated it is). Since the body can no longer extract glucose from the water in the kidneys, the osmotic pressure builds up (the pressure that forms between a liquid with a high concentration of solutes and a liquid with a low concentration). Eventually, it gets so high that the water can no longer be absorbed back into the bloodstream, and in fact it is being absorbed out of your bloodstream. Continue reading >>
Ketones: Clearing Up The Confusion
Ketones, ketosis, ketoacidosis, DKA…these are words that you’ve probably heard at one point or another, and you might be wondering what they mean and if you need to worry about them at all, especially if you have diabetes. This week, we’ll explore the mysterious world of ketones, including if and how they may affect you. Ketones — what are they? Ketones are a type of acid that the body can form if there’s not enough carbohydrate to be burned for energy (yes, you do need carbs for fuel). Without enough carb, the body turns to another energy source: fat. Ketones are made in the liver from fat breakdown. This is called ketogenesis. People who don’t have diabetes can form ketones. This might occur if a person does extreme exercise, has an eating disorder, is fasting (not eating), or is following a low-carbohydrate diet. This is called ketosis and it’s a normal response to starvation. In a person who has diabetes, ketones form for the same reason (not enough carb for energy), but this often occurs because there isn’t enough insulin available to help move carb (in the form of glucose) from the bloodstream to the cells to be used for energy. Again, the body scrambles to find an alternate fuel source in the form of fat. You might be thinking that it’s a good thing to burn fat for fuel. However, for someone who has diabetes, ketosis can quickly become dangerous if it occurs due to a continued lack of insulin (the presence of ketones along with “normal” blood sugar levels is not necessarily a cause for concern). In the absence of insulin (which can occur if someone doesn’t take their insulin or perhaps uses an insulin pump and the pump has a malfunction, for example), fat cells continue to release fat into the circulation; the liver then continues to churn Continue reading >>
Why Are Diabetes Patients Called 'sugar Patients'?
Everything we eat eventually breaks down into glucose (blood sugar) which is absorbed by our cells and provides us with the energy we need. The process whereby food is converted to energy is called metabolism. The hormone which makes it possible for glucose absorption to take place is called insulin, and it's produced naturally by a large gland called the pancreas. When the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin to make it possible for glucose absorption to occur, the glucose stays in the blood stream and keeps circulating around and around in the body. When more food is eaten, the glucose from that is added to what was already there, and the amount of glucose in the blood gets higher and higher. This condition is called diabetes. Without intervention, the circulating glucose in the blood eventually encrusts the blood vessels and plugs up the small ones so that no blood can circulate in them. The nerves which are fed by these begin to die, resulting in a loss of sensation in the feet. Other effects include permanent impotence and loss of vision. Death from diabetic complications is usually caused by stroke, heart failure, or the failure of other inadequately supplied and weakened organs. Before this happens, the amputation of the feet and lower legs may become necessary because of gangrene spreading upward from infected skin breaks in the feet which aren't noticed until it's too late. It's a slow, nasty way to go, which is why early diagnosis and continuous treatment are vitally important. There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 results from total pancreatic failure, usually in early childhood, but it can also occur as a result of severe trauma in adulthood. This type must be treated with a life-long regimen of insulin injections right from the beginning, to replace i Continue reading >>
Understanding The Presentation Of Diabetic Ketoacidosis
Hypoglycemia, diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) and hyperglycemic hyperosmolar nonketotic syndrome (HHNS) must be considered while forming a differential diagnosis when assessing and managing a patient with an altered mental status. This is especially true if the patient has a history of diabetes mellitus (DM). However, be aware that the onset of DKA or HHNS may be the first sign of DM in a patient with no known history. Thus, it is imperative to obtain a blood glucose reading on any patient with an altered mental status, especially if the patient appears to be dehydrated, regardless of a positive or negative history of DM. In addition to the blood glucose reading, the history — particularly onset — and physical assessment findings will contribute to the formulation of a differential diagnosis and the appropriate emergency management of the patient. Pathophysiology of DKA The patient experiencing DKA presents significantly different from one who is hypoglycemic. This is due to the variation in the pathology of the condition. Like hypoglycemia, by understanding the basic pathophysiology of DKA, there is no need to memorize signs and symptoms in order to recognize and differentiate between hypoglycemia and DKA. Unlike hypoglycemia, where the insulin level is in excess and the blood glucose level is extremely low, DKA is associated with a relative or absolute insulin deficiency and a severely elevated blood glucose level, typically greater than 300 mg/dL. Due to the lack of insulin, tissue such as muscle, fat and the liver are unable to take up glucose. Even though the blood has an extremely elevated amount of circulating glucose, the cells are basically starving. Because the blood brain barrier does not require insulin for glucose to diffuse across, the brain cells are rece Continue reading >>
Do Psychiatrists Sometimes Get Very Confused With Some Patients?
Psychiatrists can have difficulty working with some patients, yes. Diagnosis (a key component of the activities of psychiatrists and Psychologists) is an art, not a science, and a psychiatrist may find themselves not sure about a client’s exact diagnosis. If you’re going to prescribe medication to someone, it will be much different if they have Bipolar versus if they have Schizoaffective Disorder versus Major Depressive Disorder - but these can all look exactly the same. In these cases the psychiatrist may start with the most likely medication first, the least likely to harm medication first, or he may simply ask you to come back after he’s had a chance to consult with colleagues. Continue reading >>