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    Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA)

    Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA)

    Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a life-threatening blood chemical (electrolyte) imbalance that develops in a person with diabetes when the cells do not get the sugar (glucose) they need for energy. As a result, the body breaks down fat instead of glucose and produces and releases substances called ketones into the bloodstream.

    People with type 1 diabetes and some people with type 2 diabetes are at risk for DKA if they do not take enough insulin, have a severe infection or other illness, or become severely dehydrated.

    Symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis include:

    • Flushed, hot, dry skin.
    • A strong, fruity breath odor.
    • Restlessness, drowsiness, or difficulty waking up. Young children may lack interest in their normal activities.
    • Rapid, deep breathing.
    • Loss of appetite, abdominal pain, and vomiting.
    • Confusion.

    Severe diabetic ketoacidosis can cause difficulty breathing, brain swelling (cerebral edema), coma, or death.

    Treatment involves giving insulin and fluids through a vein and closely monitoring and replacing electrolytes.

    Current as of: May 23, 2016

    Author: Healthwise Staff

    Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator

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