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The information in this response regarding DKA is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
DKA is a serious condition that can lead to diabetic coma (passing out for a long time) or even death. DKA is dangerous and serious. If you have any of the symptoms listed below, contact your health care provider IMMEDIATELY, or go to the nearest emergency room of your local hospital.
Overview of Diabetic Ketoacidosis
When the body does not have enough insulin for the passage of adequate glucose into cells, it begins to break down fat for energy which produces ketones. The buildup of ketones in the body makes the blood acidic, leading to DKA.1
Causes for DKA may include
not enough insulin
not enough food, and/or
insulin reaction (low blood glucose).1
Table 1. Symptoms of DKA1
Thirst or very dry mouth
High blood glucose levels
High ketone levels in the urine
Constantly feeling tired
Dry or flushed skin
Nausea, vomiting,a or abdominal pain
Fruity odor on breath
Difficulty paying attention
Abbreviations: DKA = diabetic ketoacidosis.
a Vomiting can be caused by many illnesses, not just DKA. If vomiting continues for more than 2 hours, contact your health care provider.
Ketones can be measured at home using a urine test and ketone test strip.1 Ask your healthcare provider how and when to test for ketones.
Treatment for DKA typically takes place in a hospital.1
1. DKA (Ketoacidosis) & Ketones. American Diabetes Association website. https://www.diabetes.org/diabetes/complications/dka-ketoacidosis-ketones. Accessed December 13, 2019.
Date of Last Review: October 07, 2019