What is DKA?
DKA is a life threatening condition, which usually occurs in people with type 1 diabetes and rarely in people with type 2 diabetes. According to Medscape, this condition is a complex disordered metabolic state characterized by hyperglycaemia, ketoacidosis and ketonuria.
How does it happen?
It commonly occurs in type 1 diabetics because the body fails to produce enough insulin. Therefore, the cells cannot obtain the sugar in the blood for energy. The body will then burn fat as an alternative source of energy, thus producing ketones. Ketones are chemicals created by the body from the breakdown of fat for energy. Ketones are also produced when you miss a meal, you’re sick or stressed or you have an insulin reaction. The buildup of ketones increases the acidity of the blood. This is warning sign indicating that your diabetes is getting out of control. A high level of ketones poisons the body and results in DKA.
Warning Signs and Symptoms
Common early symptoms of DKA are:
- Polydipsia (excessive thirst and fluid intake)
- Polyuria (passing large amounts of urine)
Other signs and symptoms are:
- Tiredness, fatigue or generalized weakness
- Shortness of breath
- Abdominal (tummy) pain
- Nausea and vomiting (associated to abdominal pain, decreased appetite and anorexia)
- Decreased consciousness (mildly disorientated, confused)
- Increased in blood sugar or ketone levels (detected using self-testing kits)
- “Fruity” smelling breath
What should you do?
If you are experiencing most of the symptoms stated above, do contact your GP or your regular doctor immediately.
If they cannot be contacted, go to the nearest hospital immediately.
When in the hospital you might receive the following treatments:
- Fluid resuscitation (fluid pumped directly into a vein to rehydrate your body)
- Reversal of the acidosis and ketosis (alkalinizing agents such as sodium bicarbonate are usually administered)
- Reduction in the plasma glucose concentration to normal (insulin usually pumped into a vein)
- Replacement of minerals that you may have lost (eg. potassium)
- Identification of the underlying cause
You will then be closely monitored to check how well you are responding to the treatment.
When they are no further problems, you would be able to leave the hospital when you are able to eat and drink normally and tests have shown that you have a safe ketone level in your body.
Where can I get tested for diabetes?
Gribbles offers health screening to detect diseases such as diabetes. Click here to find out more before its too late!
American Diabetes Association
by Shu Ying Chee
I live by this quote, “Prevention is better than cure”. This is why I am a strong believer in practicing a healthy lifestyle… and so should you! View all articles by Shu Ying Chee.