The Symptoms and Signs of Diabetic Ketoacidosis
Diabetic ketoacidosis is just one of the many medical conditions that can occur when diabetes goes untreated. This happens when fat becomes the source for fuel in place of sugar because the body cannot produce the insulin that it needs. Ketones, which are byproducts that form due to the fat being broken down, start to build up in the blood stream and in the urine. If the levels get too high they can become very poisonous to the body. Because it can take time for symptoms of diabetes to show, this is often the first signal of type 1 diabetes. Although diabetic ketoacidosis is common mainly in type 1, there is a rare diagnosis in type 2 as it is not common.
The signs and symptoms in the beginning stages are fruity smelling breath, pain in the stomach, vomiting and nausea, heavy rapid breathing, and the mouth and skin becoming dry. The face may also become very flush. If ketoacidosis is not diagnosed and treated quickly, the symptoms can become more severe. These can include tiredness, headaches, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, finding it hard to breathe in a prone position, loss of consciousness, going to the bathroom more often and always feeling thirsty, and your muscles becoming achy and/or stiff.
The easiest and most cost effective way of testing for diabetic ketoacidosis is by a urine sample. Your doctor may test for this if you have been vomiting or have nausea, if you are pregnant, if there has been a stroke or heart attack, and if your blood sugar level reaches 240 mg or even higher. If the test does not come back positive or there is still a question, it is possible that they will do a blood test to confirm. If ketoacidosis is present but not diagnosed, it is possible that it could also have an effect on other tests that you need such as a sodium blood test or CO2.
In treating ketoacidosis the end result is to get the blood sugar levels back to close to normal as possible. If there has been a lot of fluid loss due to excessive use of the bathroom and/or vomiting, the doctor may want to replace the fluids as well. In the case of an infection being the cause the doctor will treat this as well. If the disease is not treated quickly, it can result in heart attack, kidney failure, fluid build-up in the brain, or even death.
For someone that experiences one or more of these symptoms it is crucial to get to the doctor as soon as possible for testing. To prevent this from happening, it is important for those that are already diagnosed with diabetes to keep an eye on their blood sugar levels, to keep a close eye for cuts or infections, and, if using an insulin pump, to check the tubing often to make sure that there are no kinks in the tubing. Knowing the signs can help with early detection.