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.

Published by David Despain, MS, CFS

David is a science and health writer living on Long Island, New York. He's written for a variety of publications including Scientific American, Outside Online, the American Society for Nutrition's (ASN) Nutrition Notes Daily, and Institute of Food Technologists' (IFT) Food Technology magazine and Live! blog. He's also covered new findings reported at scientific meetings including Experimental Biology, AAAS, AOCS, CASW, Sigma Xi, IFT, and others on his personal blog "Evolving Health." David is also an active member of organizations including the National Association of Science Writers (NASW), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Society for Nutrition, the Institute of Food Technologists, and the National Audubon Society. David has a master's degree in human nutrition from the University of Bridgeport, and a bachelor's degree in English from University of Illinois at Springfield. He also earned his Certified Food Scientist credential from the Institute of Food Technologists.

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