Diabetic Ketoacidosis is a serious complication of Diabetes.

It can also be referred to as DKA.

It is much more often seen in Type 1 but it also may occasionally occur in Type 2 as well.

This is a serious and can be a life threatening aspect of diabetes.

Prior to Insulin treatment of diabetes, DKA caused a large number of deaths.

When can it be seen?

  • It is often seen in a patient who is unaware of their illness of diabetes.
  • They often require an emergency visit and present with DKA symptoms
  • May also be seen in someone who fails to take their prescribed insulin
  • Can be seen with certain illnesses in a diabetic such as: infection, pneumonia


  • High blood sugar
  • Acidosis
  • Large amount of ketone bodies

Often a minimal amount of insulin is present in the blood stream

Ketone Production:

  • Occurs in low insulin situations
  • Liver believes it is starving
  • Liver will then produce ketone bodies for fuel


  • Fatigue
  • Increase urination
  • Inability to drink enough water – always thirsty
  • Fruity smell to breath
  • Confusion
  • Anger
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle pain
  • Acidosis
  • Blood pH drops
  • Muscle wasting
  • Weight loss

Late stage symptoms:

  • Unconsciousness
  • Extreme confusion
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting (can occur in early stages as well)
  • Difficulty or irregular breathing (may be very deep)
  • Death


  • Hydration
  • Replacement of electrolytes
  • Hospital stay
  • Ventilation may be necessary
  • Intubation may be necessary
  • Insulin
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