Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a medical emergency that can occur in people with diabetes. It occurs when the body cannot use sugar (glucose) as a fuel source because there is deficiency of insulin. Fat is used for fuel instead. Byproducts of fat breakdown, called ketones, build up in the body. Ketone bodies are acidic in nature and their accumulation shifts the pH of blood towards acidic range.
By definition DKA is characterized by the triad of
1. Uncontrolled hyperglycemia (high blood glucose)
2. Metabolic acidosis
3. Increased total body ketone concentration.
DKA results from the combination of absolute or relative insulin deficiency and an increase in counterregulatory hormones (glucagon, catecholamines, cortisol, and growth hormone). Most patients with DKA have type 1 diabetes; however, patients with type 2 diabetes are also at risk during the stress of acute illness such as trauma, surgery, or infections.
Usually occurs in the setting of uncontrolled blood glucose (the person might complain of history of polyuria, polydipsia and weight loss in the preceding days).
The goal of treatment is to correct the high blood sugar level with insulin. Another goal is to replace fluids lost through urination and vomiting.
Most of the time, the person will need to go to the hospital, where the following will be done:
Loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, fatigue
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