Do You Know The Signs of DKA (Diabetic Ketoacidosis)?

Do You Know The Signs Of DKA?

     Every Type 1 diabetic should know what DKA is, it’s symptoms and how serious it can be. It might save you a trip to the hospital.
DKA (Diabetic Ketoacidosis) is usually caused by an interruption in your insulin regimen (missing injections or an improper working insulin pump) or a severe illness like flu, heart attack, or stroke.
In DKA, ketones build up in the blood stream. Ketone production is controlled and limited by insulin, and if you stop taking your insulin, more ketones are produced. If you have an illness, the body produces stress hormones which counteract insulin action, thereby also causing an increase in ketones. Your blood glucose levels increase, leading to increased urination and dehydration, which itself causes higher glucose levels and more ketones, like a vicious circle.
The symptoms of DKA are nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dry mouth, thirst, and excessive urination. In advanced stages, deep breathing patterns develop. This brings on the telltale sign of DKA, which is a fruity odor to your breath. If your level of consciousness is decreased, a prompt trip to the hospital is in order.
Some people incorrectly think that if they are sick and not eating, they don’t need to take their insulin. This results in rapid development of DKA. It is important to ask your doctor early in an illness the best way to avoid interrupting your insulin regimen. Dehydration due to vomiting, and the inability to eat and drink can cause high glucose levels and more ketones.
The best way to prevent DKA is to check your urine ketones when your glucose levels are consistently above 250mg/dl, and not responding to additional insulin shots. Urine ketone test kits are available in most pharmacies. Brand name Ketostix tests urine ketones, and brand name Keto-Diastix tests both for ketones and glucose. Be sure to keep these on hand if you are a Type 1 diabetic. It is a cheap alternative to a trip to the emergency room. It also could save your life, as DKA can be deadly.
(Diabetes Forecast Nov. 2009)

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