Diabetic Ketoacidoisis (DKA): What You Should Know

What is DKA?

Diabetic ketoacidosis, or DKA, is a serious complication of diabetes that occurs when your body produces high levels of blood acids called ketones.

How does DKA occur?

When the body cannot produce enough insulin, the body begins to burn fat for energy and produces a buildup of acids in the bloodstream called ketones. Once the ketones build up in the blood and cause high acidity, if they are left in the body untreated, DKA will occur. The basic reasons for moderate to large amounts of ketones are from: not enough insulin, not enough food, or a reaction to insulin.

What are the symptoms of DKA?
  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Nausea and vomiting or abdominal pain
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Shortness of breath or fruity-scented breath
  • Confusion
  • Hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar
  • High ketone levels in urine
What is the treatment for DKA?

Treatment takes place in the hospital and typically involves fluid replacement, electrolyte replacement, and insulin therapy. To ensure a safe insulin therapy regimen, it is best to use a clinical decision support software for patient-specific dosing recommendations.

How can you prevent DKA?

The following precautions can be taken to prevent diabetic ketoacidosis and other diabetes complications:

  • Commit to healthy eating and physical activity
  • Take diabetes medications or insulin as directed
  • Monitor your blood sugar level (check more often if ill or under stress)
  • Adjust your insulin dosage as needed
  • Use an over-the-counter urine ketones test when you’re ill or under stress