Due to chronic diabetic condition, the body would produce high volumes of blood acids called ketones. This becomes a potentially life threatening condition called diabetic ketoacidosis. The pancreas becomes incapable of producing required quantities of insulin that your body needs. As a result there will be heavy accumulation of sugar compounds in the bloodstream causing high blood sugar or diabetes.
The body begins to use fat as an alternative for insulin which results in the production of toxic acids called ketones in the bloodstream. Slowly there will be loads of this toxic acids or ketones in the blood thus leading to diabetic ketoacidosis.
Some of the major symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis are rapid breathing, frequent urination, unusual thirst, nausea, vomiting, pain in the abdomen, loss of appetite, flushed face, dry skin and fruity smelling breath. It can also cause some of the serious conditions like decreased consciousness, dulling of sense, extreme tiredness, severe headache, muscle stiffness and even coma. There can be confusion of thoughts and dizziness. In addition it will cause hyperglycemia a condition of heightened blood sugar level. If you have any of the serious symptoms given above, you need to seek immediate medical care.
Lack of insulin production by the metabolism is the main cause for diabetic ketoacidosis. Sugar being the major source of energy for building up of tissues and muscles, will enter the cells with the help of insulin. When insulin is not secreted in the body, sugar cannot be used properly for producing energy. This in turn will trigger some hormone which will eventually break down fat particles in the place of sugar. This breakdown of fatty substances discharges plenty of toxins called ketones. When ketones accumulate in the blood in excess it gets spilt into the urine also.
Infections like pneumonia or urinary tract infections can cause this disorder. Chronic diabetic patients may sometimes use inadequate insulin therapy which will leave very low levels of insulin in the body, stimulating diabetic ketoacidosis. Medical conditions like high fever, heart attack, physical injury and alcohol abuse can cause this problem. This disorder is common in Type 1 diabetic patients when they undergo surgery or they miss insulin therapy.
Who are at risk?
Having type 1 diabetes condition, young age and missing doses of insulin treatment gives high risk of developing diabetic ketoacidosis.
Often treatment given for ketoacidosis can cause certain complications due to very low levels of blood sugar and low levels of potassium. Reduced potassium (hypokalemia) in the blood can affect the normal functions of your heart and nervous system. It may even cause swelling of liquid in the brain causing serious complications. If left untreated with this condition it can be fatal for the affected person.
Urine analysis is done for detecting diabetic ketoacidosis. Blood culture is also done for checking the blood ketone level. Based on the health condition of the patient, the doctor can order for potassium blood test, amylase blood test, and blood glucose test. In addition, the doctor may request for chest X-ray, electrolyte test, and electro cardiogram.
Depending on the health condition of the patient affected with diabetic ketoacidosis he will be treated in the emergency ward. The doctor will mainly take into considerations three approaches. He will be given enough fluids through IV line so that he is not staying dehydrated. In this way he will receive the lost fluids in the form of excess of urination and this also helps in diluting the blood sugar in the blood.
He will be given electrolyte replacement therapy for balancing the ions like sodium and potassium. Due to lack of insulin there will be heavy loss of electrolytes in your bloodstream which are much needed for keeping the functions of heart and muscles in normal rhythm. Insulin is injected into the blood through the vein until the blood sugar level reaches normal reading and the blood is no longer acidic. Once reaching this level, insulin is to be taken orally or by subcutaneous injection. After the patient recovers to normal health the doctor will devise suitable treatment plan for diabetes management. Actual cause of the problem will be found and treated once the patient stabilizes.
You can do nothing to prevent diabetic ketoacidosis, which is a type of complication caused by diabetes mellitus. Make sure that you are managing diabetes by taking regular medications and by having healthy diet. Include physical activity or exercise in your daily routine.
For people with chronic diabetes it is necessary to check the blood sugar level daily and more particularly during stress. If the levels of blood sugar rise, you can accordingly increase the dosage of insulin injection. You can always check the ketone level in your urine by the test kit available over the counter. By keeping things under control you can prevent any serious consequences caused by diabetic ketoacidosis.