What are the Symptoms of Diabetic Ketoacidosis?

What are the Symptoms of Diabetic Ketoacidosis?

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a serious complication of diabetes that occurs when the body produces high levels of ketones due to a lack of insulin. It is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms of DKA can develop rapidly and may include:

  • Excessive Thirst (Polydipsia): Feeling extremely thirsty and drinking large amounts of water.
  • Frequent Urination (Polyuria): Increased need to urinate frequently.
  • High Blood Glucose Levels (Hyperglycemia): Elevated blood sugar levels, often above 250 mg/dL (13.9 mmol/L).
  • Fatigue and Weakness: Feeling unusually tired or weak, with decreased energy levels.
  • Nausea and Vomiting: Persistent nausea and vomiting that may lead to dehydration.
  • Abdominal Pain: Severe abdominal pain, often described as sharp or cramping.
  • Shortness of Breath (Dyspnea): Difficulty breathing or rapid, shallow breathing.
  • Fruity Breath Odor: A fruity or acetone-like odor on the breath, resulting from the presence of ketones.
  • Confusion or Altered Mental Status: Difficulty focusing, confusion, or changes in consciousness.
  • Flushed or Reddened Skin: Skin may appear red or flushed due to dehydration.
  • Dry Mouth and Throat: Feeling parched due to dehydration.
  • Weakness on One Side of the Body: In severe cases, weakness or paralysis on one side of the body (rare).

DKA is a medical emergency and requires immediate treatment in a hospital setting. Treatment involves administering insulin to lower blood sugar levels, fluids to rehydrate the body, and electrolytes to restore balance. Monitoring and addressing complications like electrolyte imbalances and potential organ failure are critical in managing DKA. People with diabetes should be aware of the signs and symptoms of DKA and seek medical attention promptly if they experience any of these symptoms.

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