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Diabetic ketoacidosis is a relatively common complication of type I and sometimes type II diabetes that occurs because the body doesn't have enough insulin and the body cannot use glucose for fuel. Fat is burned for fuel instead. One of the byproducts of fat breakdown includes ketones, which build up in the body and cause problems in the body.

Causes of diabetic ketoacidosis include elevated blood sugar levels and type I diabetes. A lack of insulin means the body cannot process glucose so that the body cannot use glucose for food. Body fat is broken down, leading to ketones in the bloodstream and ketoacidosis. High levels of ketones are poisonous to the body.

Blood sugar levels increase higher than 300 mg/dL due to liver's production of sugar to try and give the body some nutrition. It doesn't work with a lack of insulin and diabetic ketoacidosis ensues.

Sometimes diabetic ketoacidosis is the first sign a person has type I diabetes. It can be the first symptom a person has. It can also be a sign that a diabetic is not taking his or her insulin doses. Infection, heart attack, trauma or surgery can cause ketoacidosis in a known diabetic. Type II diabetics can rarely get diabetic ketoacidosis and it is usually triggered by having a severe illness at the same time as the ketoacidosis. It is more common in Hispanic and black populations and less common in Caucasians.

Symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis includes having dry skin, a dry mouth, deep and rapid breathing, flushed face, breath odor that smells fruity, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. It can look like the person is severely ill. Other less common symptoms include frequent urination, thirst, fatigue, confusion that leads to a coma, shortness of breath, muscle stiffness, decreased appetite, breathing difficulty while lying down, decreased consciousness, headache and a poor appetite.

The tests and examinations that help determine the presence of ketoacidosis include checking the ketones in the urine. Ketone testing is usually positive when the blood sugar is greater than 250 mg per dL, when a person is ill with another disease such as a heart attack, stroke or pneumonia, nausea or vomiting or during pregnancy.

Doctors often do other tests to diagnose diabetic ketoacidosis. These include blood gases, which determine the pH of the blood and the oxygen level of the blood, blood glucose testing, a measurement of blood pressure, a check of the amylase level and a potassium level. These are often abnormal in diabetic ketoacidosis. Other tests that can be abnormal are the CO2 level, the analysis of the cerebrospinal fluid, the potassium level in the urine and the magnesium test in the bloodstream. The sodium in the urine and blood can be abnormal, the urine pH can be abnormal and the phosphorus level in the bloodstream can be abnormal.

The treatment of diabetic ketoacidosis involves correcting the blood sugar levels by providing the body with more insulin. You need to replace lost fluids through urination and vomiting. You can correct diabetic ketoacidosis at home if you are aware of the signs and symptoms early enough to offset a severe disease. Most of the time, on the whole, you need to be hospitalized when you have diabetic ketoacidosis. Doctors will replace the lost insulin and will correct the electrolyte and fluid imbalance. The cause of the condition (such as an infection) needs to be uncovered and treated.

The prognosis of diabetic ketoacidosis depends on how severe it is. It can be deadly if left untreated. It is a common cause of death among the elderly, who simply lapse into a coma and die from the disease.

Complications of diabetic ketoacidosis include kidney failure, heart attack or death of bowel tissue due to a low blood pressure situation and fluid build-up in the brain, a condition called cerebral edema.

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Medical Negligence Solicitors

Our personal injury solicitors operate a specialist medical negligence compensation service. Our Diabetic Ketoacidosis solicitors deal with claims using a no win no fee arrangement which means that if you dont win then you dont pay them their professional costs. If you would like legal advice at no cost with no further obligation just complete the contact form or email our lawyers offices or use the helpline and a Diabetic Ketoacidosis solicitor will review your medical negligence compensation claim and phone you immediately.

HELPLINE: ☎ 1800 633 634

The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here