Diabetic ketoacidosis

If you have an untreated hypo it might turn into diabetic ketoacidosis, one of the most common complications of type 1 diabetes. The condition poisons the body and can lead to severe outcomes such as death, if not treated in time.


Diabetic ketoacidosis can happen to anyone with diabetes, but it is mainly seen in connection with type 1 diabetes. It is a quite common complication and it is estimated that almost half of hospitalizations regarding type 1 diabetes is due to diabetic ketoacidosis. Also this condition is often the first symptom to appear before being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

What is diabetic ketoacidosis?

When the body cannot convert the blood glucose into energy because of the lack of insulin, it will need another source of energy. Ultimately it will start breaking down fat and muscle as an alternative source of energy and this process produces waste chemicals (ketones), which causes a chemical imbalance and high blood acidity, basically poisoning the body. The body is not capable of releasing all the ketones and if this condition is not treated immediately it can have severe outcomes such as coma, swelling of the brain or death. The symptoms include nausea and vomiting, stomach pain, a fruity smelling breath, drowsiness, confusion, hyperventilation, dehydration and unconsciousness.

The treatment of diabetic ketoacidosis takes place in hospital and usually consists of insulin injections, replacement of minerals and receiving fluids directly to your veins in order to restore your levels. Normally the recovery is fairly quick and you can leave hospital when you are able to eat and drink normally again.

- Diabetes UK

Last updated: 16/07/2018

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