What Are The Warning Signs of Diabetic Ketoacidosis?


Nov 2, 2021


What are the warning signs of diabetic ketoacidosis? If you or a loved one struggles with diabetes, diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is something you may be curious or worried about. However, if you’re unaware of DKA and are wondering, “what is diabetic ketoacidosis?” Here is what you need to know. 

Diabetic ketoacidosis is a serious complication of diabetes that is known to be life-threatening if left untreated. Though DKA is most common in individuals who have Type 1 diabetes, those with Type 2 diabetes can also develop DKA. The medical professionals at Complete Care ER are here to answer some frequently asked questions regarding DKA. 

What are the warning signs of diabetic ketoacidosis?

Early symptoms of DKA develop slowly and can include excessive thirst and frequent urination. If not treated in its early stages, the symptoms can worsen. 

These are the more severe symptoms of DKA to look out for:

It’s important to note that in some cases, DKA is the first sign of diabetes for individuals who have not yet been diagnosed. 

What causes diabetic ketoacidosis?

According to the CDC, DKA forms when your body doesn’t have enough insulin to allow blood sugar into your cells for use as energy. When your body doesn’t produce enough insulin, your blood glucose level drops and your liver breaks down fat for fuel instead. This process produces acids called ketones that when produced too fast, can build up to dangerous levels in your body. This can also occur when you fall ill and have trouble ingesting food and drink, making your blood sugar more difficult to manage. 

How do you test for ketoacidosis?

Testing for ketoacidosis is typically done through a simple urine or blood sample. You can even do this test at home. 

If you become sick or your blood sugar is 240 mg/dL or above, you can purchase an over-the-counter blood and urine testing kit to detect high blood glucose levels and high ketone levels in your urine. Use this test every 4 to 6 hours. This test can help you to determine if you need to seek medical attention or not. 

When should I go to the hospital for diabetic ketoacidosis?

If after using that home test kit you notice your ketone levels are moderate or high, contact your doctor or head to the nearest emergency room. Elevated ketones are a sign of DKA and need to be treated immediately. 

If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, head to the ER ASAP:

  • Your blood sugar stays at 300 mg/dL or above
  • You notice that your breath smells fruity
  • You are vomiting
  • You can’t keep food or drink in your stomach
  • You’re having trouble breathing
  • You have multiple signs and symptoms of DKA that were listed above

Treatments for DKA

Once you get to the emergency room, the medical staff will likely give you the following treatments. 

  • Receiving IV fluids to help with dehydration and to dilute the excess sugar in your blood
  • Receiving insulin treatments to help reverse the symptoms of DKA
  • Prescribing medications for any ailments or other symptoms 

If DKA goes untreated, it can lead to loss of consciousness and even death. It is very important that if you are someone with diabetes that you take note of these symptoms and seek medical attention when necessary. 

Keep reading: What to do for dehydration

Head to Complete Care’s 24-Hour Emergency Room if You’re Experiencing any DKA Symptoms 

Now that we have answered, “what are the warning signs of diabetic ketoacidosis?” We hope that you are more informed on when to head to the emergency room if you’re experiencing DKA symptoms. 

If you’re concerned about how to manage your diabetes or have questions regarding your recommended daily sugar intake, the medical professionals at Complete Care are here to answer any questions that you may have. 

Complete Care offers quick emergency care with ER locations in both Texas and Colorado. Our offices are open 24/7 and do not require an appointment. So, head directly into one of our offices or give us a call today. We will take complete care of you.

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