Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)

DKA is a very serious complication in diabetics when body is short of insulin. 

In this condition, when there is a lack of insulin and glucose is not utilised by body cells for energy, body breaks down fat cells into ketones or ketoacids leading to an acidic pH in body.

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Who are at risk?

People with T1D are mostly affected with DKA as there is no insulin production and very rarely in people with T2D where there is very less insulin production by body.

What are the causes?

  • Prior to diagnosis of T1D, with prolonged hyperglycaemia in the absence of insulin.
  • Less insulin intake for a long time.
  • Intense physical activity with existing hyperglycaemia.
  • Any underlying infection like Urinary tract infection, flu etc.

How is it diagnosed?

  • A simple urinalysis with reagent stripes measuring glucose levels and ketones will diagnose the DKA at home.
  • Blood glucose meters measuring glucose levels and ketones shows presence of ketones in blood.

When should we suspect a DKA?

There are many symptoms which a diabetic experiences when suffering from DKA as follows-

  • Stomach ache
  • Nausea or vomitting
  • Increased thirst 
  • Increased urination
  • Rapid breathing with a fruity smell
  • Blurred vision 
  • Weight loss in case of prolonged ketoacidosis.

How it is managed?

In case of ketoacidosis, patient needs to be hospitalised and given intravenous fluids to compensate the dehydration along with the insulin.

If reason for DKA is any underlying infection, then it needs to be treated simultaneously.

 Complications of DKA-

If not treated on time DKA causes a rapid weight loss, eventually coma and death.

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