How to recognize diabetic ketoacidosis

Diabetic ketoacidosis occurs when glucose rises in the blood and there’s too little insulin (1). The hyperglycemia is accompanied by breakdown of fats producing ketones (1).

Diabetics can quickly recognize the problem due to excessive thirst and frequent urination (2). The increased urine production can potentially cause electrolyte disturbances (1-3). High ketone levels in the urine will tell if diagnosis is correct (1-2).

It has to be treated right away with insulin administration and replacement of electrolytes and fluids (3).

References
1. Fleckman AM. Diabetic ketoacidosis. Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am 1993;22:181-207.

2. Israel RS. Diabetic ketoacidosis. Emerg Med Clin North Am 1989;7:859-71.

3. Bergenstal RM. Diabetic ketoacidosis. How to treat and, when possible, prevent. Postgrad Med 1985;77:151-7, 161.

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