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Complications of Diabetes

Written by Dr Rajesh Kesari MD


Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA)

Diabetic ketoacidosis is an acute complication of Diabetes. It generally affects persons with Type I Diabetes but may rarely occur in Type II diabetes as well. Interestingly Blood glucose levels are not very high during DKA, usually less than 250 mg/dl.


Its caused by acute deficiency of insulin in the body- this forces the body to breakdown fat for utilization inside the cells as the source of energy. Ketones are the waste products generated during breakdown of fats and when in high quantities they affect the pH of blood leading to the dis-balance between acid and base components in blood.

Generally it happens when a dose of insulin is skipped due to illness by type I patients, Hence the sick day rule. It can also be precipitated due to infections or Heart attacks.

Symptoms of Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA)

Dehydration, Dryness of skin, mouth

Deep breathing with a strong fruity odour coming from breaths


Unexplained pain in stomach

Tests for detection

DKA can be easily detected using urine dipsticks which measure ketones which are excreted by the kidneys in urine. Some glucometers also have function of measuring blood ketones with special strips.


Any patient with these symptoms or any doubt of having DKA should be rushed to Hospital Emergency departments. This is a life threatening condition and requires immediate medical attention.


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