(Diabetic Coma; DKA)
DefinitionDiabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) occurs when a person’s blood sugar (glucose) is too high because there is not enough insulin. Instead, the body starts to burn fat for energy. Fat is broken down into acids, causing acid levels to build up in the blood. These acids appear in urine and blood as ketones. DKA is a serious condition that can lead to coma or death if it is not promptly treated.
CausesDKA is most often caused by uncontrolled type 1 diabetes and sometimes type 2 diabetes.
Risk FactorsFactors that may increase your risk of DKA:
- New infection that may not be obvious, such as pneumonia, urinary tract infection, or sepsis
- Not taking insulin as prescribed or not taking enough insulin at all
- New heart disease, such as heart attack
- Recent stroke
- Recreational drug use, such as cocaine
- Blood clot to the lungs
SymptomsDKA may cause:
- High blood glucose levels (greater than 250 mg per dL)
- Dry mouth and skin
- Frequent urination
- Vomiting and nausea
- Severe stomach pain
- Trouble breathing
- Fruity breath odor
- Rapid pulse
DiagnosisYour doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. A urine and/or blood test will be done to look for the presence of ketones.
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