Diabetic Ketoacidosis emergency
Written by DiabeTV

Diabetic ketoacidosis is a dangerous condition that arises when cells are unable to obtain glucose (sugar) for energy. The body instead turns to converting fat for energy, which in the process creates what are known as ketones. When these acids begin to build up in our system, they cause DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis) which can lead to diabetic coma or death if left untreated. Although proper medical treatment can reverse the symptoms caused by this dangerous condition, it is best to prevent it from occurring in the first place. It should also be noted that while DKA usually occurs in type 1 diabetics because they lack insulin, it can occur in type 2 individuals as well.

There are a few signs one can look out for that indicate the development of this dangerous condition, they are as follow:

  • Dry mouth
  • Frequent Thirst
  • Constant urination
  • High blood-glucose levels
  • High ketone levels in urine
  • Fruity smelling breath
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Nausea
  • Dry skin
  • Difficulty breathing


DKA usually results from not getting enough insulin or food. It is important for diabetics to realize when this condition is occurring, since if left untreated it can cause serious health problems. Aside from noticeable symptoms, the most common ways to check for DKA is to test a blood or urine sample. Usually, these are conducted when an individual has one of the following:

  • Frequent nausea or vomiting
  • Serious illness such as heart attack, pneumonia or stroke
  • Blood-sugar higher than 240 mg/dL
  • Pregnancy

Anyone is able to test themselves, either with urine strips or a glucose meter. If you do show up positively for ketones, make sure to call your primary healthcare physician right away and follow their instructions. Above all, when you have this dangerous condition refrain from strenuous activities like exercise. The bottom line is that DKA is considered a serious medical emergency, and should be treated as such.


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