Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a life-threatening condition when the body has practically no insulin. This insulin deficiency results in extremely high blood sugar levels. Consequently, the muscle, fat and liver cells cannot use glucose for fuel. These cells are converted into glucose by hormones such as glucagon and adrenalin and turned into ketones through oxidation. As a result, the body uses fat for fuel. The increased levels of blood sugar are not flushed through urination.
DKA is usually noticed in patients suffering from Insulin-dependent diabetes. A person can suffer from diabetic ketoacidosis if there has been severe dehydration and consequently the blood chemistry has been affected. There is accumulation of organic acids and ketones in the blood. Elevated ketone levels in the body upset its blood pH and make the blood acidic thereby triggering a toxic condition for the body's cells. Diabetic ketoacidosis is noticed when hyperglycemia exceeds 300 mg/dL. If diabetes ketoacidosis is not addressed in time, it can lead to coma and death. Surgery, infection, trauma, stroke or heart attack can also trigger diabetes ketoacidosis. Insufficient fluid intake, pancreatitis and alcohol abuse can trigger diabetes ketoacidosis.
Symptoms of diabetes ketoacidosis include excessive thirst and general weakness. There is frequent urination, loss of appetite and vomiting. Other symptoms of diabetes ketoacidosis are weight loss and abdominal pain. A person suffering from DKA tends to experience low blood pressure and increased heart rate. High ketone levels can give rise to a fruity-scent on the breath and vomiting. The patient will be restless and agitated. The skin will be hot and dry and appear flushed. Patients suffering from diabetes must check their blood glucose levels if they notice any symptoms of diabetes ketoacidosis. Poor diabetes management can lead to DKA.
Acidosis can be checked by testing the pH of the blood. Normal blood pH ranges from 7.35 to 7.45. If it is observed to be below 7.35, acidosis may have set in. Ketosis, acidosis and hyperglycemia can be diagnosed through blood tests. The patient will need fluid replacement till the body is sufficiently rehydrated. Electrolytes must also be suitably replaced as they are essential to the working of major organs and nerve cells. Electrolyte imbalance can lead to severe health hazards. Intravenous insulin aids in using up glucose for energy. Thus the breakdown of fat is stopped. Consequently acidosis and ketosis processes will be reversed.
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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: January 27, 2023