This is a serious life-threatening condition all Diabetics need to be aware of. Learning how to recognize Ketoacidosis is an important lesson.
If action is taken at an early stage, DKA can usually be avoided.
Here’s How It Goes:
➡ When the body is short on insulin, glucose builds up in the bloodstream and can’t enter your cells.
➡ The cells then start burning fat as an alternative source of energy, instead of glucose. This results in ketones forming in the blood and eventually spilling into the urine.
And while some people would say that burning fat is not a bad thing, the problems come when your body is burning fat for energy, because that causes it to produce ketones…
- Over time, the ketones build up and your body can become very acidic.
The presence of ketones can be detected by blood or urine tests, but before that, you may notice a smell on your breath, like acetone or a fruity smell.
Other signs may include:
- more frequent urination than normal
- abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting
- shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Ketones may also be produced when blood glucose levels are low, which is a sign of poor food intake. This type is usually referred to as “starvation ketones.”
If left untreated, it can lead to a serious and life-threatening diabetic coma or death. High levels of ketones are toxic to the body and if you’re experiencing these, you should seek out medical attention.
The high levels of ketones are toxic to the body can make you feel very sick.
It is important that your ketone buildup doesn’t last too long, to avoid going into ketoacidosis.
If you are vomiting and your blood sugar level is high, please seek urgent help!
So, we know that the underlying problem causing DKA is not enough insulin. The following factors may also contribute:
- Undiagnosed diabetes
- Not enough insulin to meet the increased need during periods of illness.
- Inaccurate or missed insulin doses.
- Poor overall control of diabetes (HbA1c above 7).
- Frequent urination
- Feeling tired and lethargic
- Blurry vision
- Abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting
- Breathing changes (deep sighing breaths)
- The smell of ketones on the breath (like acetone or fruity, sweet)
- Fainting, collapse/unconsciousness
➡ Keep blood glucose levels within the target range
➡ Take action early if you start not feeling well, have a bad stomach ache or are vomiting.
➡ While you’re feeling sick, check your blood glucose regularly – at least every 2 hours
➡ Stay home from work if you’ll be needing to take insulin frequently during the day
➡ Avoid dehydration with plenty of sugar-free fluids taken in small amounts, but frequently
➡ If you’re unable to eat carbohydrates due to weakness and nausea, add in sugary drinks, but in moderation.
➡ Phone for help if you are worried or if blood ketone levels are above 1.5
➡ Never stop insulin
➡ If you’re feeling sick, don’t go to work!
➡ If you are worried, call for help.
Thriving with diabetes involves more than eating the right foods and taking your medication as prescribed. It also involves understanding insulin’s role in helping you to maintain good health and avoiding diabetes complications.
An illness or infection can also trigger diabetic ketoacidosis. Monitor your blood sugar level when you’re sick because an illness or infection can cause your body to produce higher levels of adrenaline and cortisol.
➡ Too much of these hormones reduce insulin’s effectiveness by preventing the absorption of glucose into your cells.
Stress may also lead to this complication. When under stress, the body goes into fight-or-flight mode and also produces higher amounts of adrenaline and cortisol.
Fluid replacement and insulin therapy are the primary treatments for diabetic ketoacidosis.
➡ While in the hospital, you will likely receive fluids and insulin intravenously. Fluids are necessary because this condition can cause excess urination and raise the risk of dehydration.
➡ Fluids also replace lost electrolytes, whereas insulin helps stop the production of ketones and allows glucose to absorb into your body’s cells.