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Diabetic Ketoacidosis

What is ketoacidosis?

Ketocidosis means there is a high level of ketones or acids in the blood. These ketones, in increased quantities can have a poisonous effect on the body.

In a diabetic, there is poor utilisation of glucose (made from the carbohydrates he eats) by the various tissues of the body. When a diabetic does not take proper care of the condition, the body begins to burn fat instead carbohydrates for energy. This results in formation of ketone bodies. Lack of insulin also leads to reduced destruction of ketone bodies. This makes changes in the blood that lead to an alteration in the level of consciousness and ultimately to coma.

This is a serious complication and the patient should be hospitalised immediately.

Who is at risk?
  • People with Type I diabetes, especially when there is
  1. Infection
  2. Injury
  3. Heart attack
  4. Surgery.
  • In people with Type II diabetes, ketoacidosis may follow serious infection.

What are the symptoms?
  • Increased urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Inability to concentrate; confusion; loss of mental alertness.
  • Abdominal pain and tenderness.
  • Rapid and deep breathing
  • Dehydration
  • Fruity odour of breath
  • Decrease in blood pressure
  • Rapid heart rate

  • If you are a diabetic, be aware of the symptoms of ketoacidosis. Take prompt action at the early warning signs.
  • If you are Type I diabetic and if you have an injury, infection, surgery etc, take extra precaution to keep you blood sugar level well under control.
  • Have your blood sugar regularly monitored. A simple urine test can show the level of ketones in the blood. If this is on the increase your diabetologist can put you on medication to help prevent ketoacidosis.

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