Ketoacidosis is a medical condition that is life-threatening and involves the body developing high levels of acidity by having an extremely low level of pH. This occurs when the body releases high levels of ketones which is a complication of type 1 diabetes.
The body imagines that it is starved leading to it breaking down fats and proteins rapidly. Diabetic ketoacidosis is a condition caused by a deficiency of insulin. Therefore, if a diabetic person that is insulin-dependent is not provided with enough insulin, misses a meal, is stressed, reacts to insulin, and does not have enough insulin injected, then there is a danger of developing diabetic ketoacidosis.
The keto diet can induce ketoacidosis especially when one is on a low carb diet with high fats also as seen, it can be brought about when one does not know the risk of not taking their medications. People who are at a high risk of diabetic ketoacidosis are those with diabetes and with high levels of blood ketones.
Ketoacidosis can be caused by high levels of stress, drug and alcohol misuse, pneumonia, severe dehydration, urinary tract infection, stroke, heart attack, being involved in an accident, and taking medications like diuretics, prednisone, glucocorticoid, and dexamethasone.
When you get sick, you may not be in a position to consume food as you usually do and not be able to give the body all the nutrients and minerals it needs, therefore, you might have a difficulty maintaining the blood sugar levels that the body should have due to low food intake.
Symptoms of ketoacidosis
- Feeling exhausted
- Urinating frequently and feeling thirsty.
- High levels of blood glucose.
- Having flushed or dry skin.
- Increasing levels of ketones in the urine.
- Having stomach pains
- Experiencing difficulty in breathing, nausea, and vomiting.
- Having trouble breathing.
- Losing consciousness.
- Having difficulties in being attentive and being confused.
- Excessive thirst.
How to prevent diabetic ketoacidosis
Diabetic ketoacidosis is a condition that needs quick medical emergency but is very much treatable. Most diabetic ketoacidosis patients may stay in the hospital to be monitored by the doctor until they stabilize.
They will need insulin therapy combined with the replacement of fluids and electrolytes as treatment. Anyone with diabetes needs to apply prevention measures so that they don’t go into ketoacidosis. The preventive measures they can apply include;
- Frequently monitor your blood glucose levels and if not under control, visit a doctor.
- If the blood sugar level is above 240 mg/dl, test your urine for ketones.
- If you have high levels of blood sugar with ketones in your urine, then avoid exercising.
- Take insulin as your doctor instructed you.
- Ensure you take a well-balanced diet and don’t skip any meals.
- Take enough fluids if you are diabetic to avoid being dehydrated. If you take any beverage like coffee, take 8 ounces of beverages that are free from caffeine.
- Check the insulin you have if it has expired or not to be on the safer side.
- Check for insulin leaks if you are on an insulin pump and your tube connections for the presence of air bubbles.
- If your insulin has clumps, discard it and don’t use it. Ensure that the insulin you take is very clear or evenly cloudy with tiny flecks.
- Create an emergency plan for diabetic ketoacidosis. If you have high levels of ketones or your blood sugar is too high, then visit a doctor immediately.
Diabetes ketoacidosis can also be found in people with diabetes type 2 but this is a rare case. This can only be found in older people with type 2 diabetes and with severe dehydration levels.
Diabetic ketoacidosis has its risks factors which include;
- stomach illness.
- If one does not take insulin as instructed by the doctor.
- Missing insulin doses often.
- Having type 1 diabetes, even if it is not diagnosed.
- Having heart infractions like a heart attack.
- Any trauma experiences.
- Eating disorder.
- Severe stress.
- Experiencing endocrine conditions like hyperthyroidism and Cushing syndrome.
- Having acute gastrointestinal diseases like pancreatitis.
- Blood clots especially in the lungs.
- If you have had a recent stroke.
- Any form of surgery.
- Use of illegal drugs like cocaine and heroin.
- Taking medicines like antipsychotics and steroids.
Diagnosis and tests of Diabetic Ketoacidosis
To diagnose diabetic ketoacidosis, visit a doctor for examination. Different ways are used to test for the condition and they include;
- Test your ketone levels if you have the above-mentioned symptoms of high blood sugar like urinating frequently, feeling thirsty, and having a dry mouth or your blood sugar level is above 250 milligrams per deciliter.
- Use a urine test stripe to test your levels of sugar since ketones can be measured by some glucose meters. You can try to lower your blood sugar by the test again after some time like 30 minutes.
- Visit a doctor for a physical examination, the doctor will ask about the symptoms you are experiencing and your medical history. To diagnose diabetic ketoacidosis, the doctor might need you to do tests like;
- Blood pressure
- Bloodwork as well as electrolytes and metabolic panel
- Arterial blood gas
- Chest X-ray
- Signs of infection tests
Diabetic Ketoacidosis Treatment
It is very important that once you discover that you have diabetic ketoacidosis, seek medical attention as fast as possible. This is because you can go into a coma and possibly pass on. The emergency treatments you might receive at the hospital include;
- Given fluids to be hydrated to bring your blood chemistry back to equilibrium.
- If you show signs and symptoms of getting a heart attack, then the doctor will do a further evaluation of the heart.
- If you have infections, you will be given antibiotics.
- patients are given insulin shots through an IV to lower their level of ketones.
- To replace vital minerals like potassium, sodium, and chloride, your electrolytes will be replaced through IV to keep your nerves, muscles, and heart functioning properly.
While in a diabetic ketoacidosis condition, you will experience complications if you do not get emergency help like getting insulin shots or electrolytes being replaced. Some of the complications include;
- Swelling of the brain (Cerebral edema), this happens if your blood sugars are altered quickly.
- Being unconscious.
- Low levels of potassium or hypokalemia.
- Low blood sugar levels or hypoglycemia.
Important points to remember about diabetic ketoacidosis
- Diabetic ketoacidosis is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention when symptoms are seen. This can lead to many complications and even death if medical attention is not sought immediately.
- Diabetic ketoacidosis is a condition that affects people with type 1 diabetes majorly with a disease or other health conditions.
- Before visiting a doctor, know the reason for your visit and the signs or symptoms you are experiencing.
- Together with the doctor, find the best treatment option for you.
- If you are visiting a new doctor, ensure that you know the medication that you have been on.
- Know of other appointments you are going to have, and write down the date and time so that you won’t forget them.
Diabetic ketoacidosis is a life-threatening condition that if not checked by a doctor, then it can lead to death. It affects people with diabetes and it takes place when the body begins to break down fats at a very fast rate.
The blood then becomes acidic since the liver processes the fats to fuel known as ketones. As much as it is a serious condition, it can be prevented and also cured. Diabetic ketoacidosis is caused when the presence of insulin in the body is very minimal.
This happens when glucose cannot effectively enter cells to be utilized as the source of fuel, and large amounts of blood sugar are made by the liver. People with type 2 diabetes are majorly at lower risk of getting into ketoacidosis, however, this can change if your body is straining due to surgery, injury, or an infection.
Mostly, this condition can be very scary but don’t let it put you down and in fear. There are many ways to prevent yourself from getting into diabetic ketoacidosis if you are a diabetic person.
Ensure that you maintain a well-balanced diet, and a healthy lifestyle, exercise as much as you can, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, visit the doctor regularly, administer your insulin shot correctly according to the doctor’s instructions, and measure your blood sugar level regularly.
Therefore, if you are experiencing any diabetic ketoacidosis conditions whether you are a diabetic person or not, seek medical attention immediately as you will be checked and helped by the doctor.