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Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a life-threatening blood
chemical (electrolyte) imbalance that develops in a person with diabetes when
the cells do not get the sugar (glucose) they need for energy. As a result, the
body breaks down fat instead of glucose and produces and releases substances
called ketones into the bloodstream.
People with type 1 diabetes
and some people with type 2 diabetes are at risk for DKA if they do not take
enough insulin, have a severe infection or other illness, or become severely
Symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis include:
Severe diabetic ketoacidosis can cause difficulty
breathing, brain swelling (cerebral edema), coma, or death.
Treatment involves giving insulin and fluids through a vein and closely
monitoring and replacing electrolytes.
Current as of:
May 22, 2015
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
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