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Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) happens when the body does not have enough insulin and can't get the sugar it needs for energy. When the body can't use sugar for energy, it starts to use fat for energy. This process makes fatty acids called ketones. The ketones build up in the blood and change the chemical balance in your body.
This problem can be very dangerous and needs to be treated. Without treatment, it can lead to a coma or death.
DKA occurs most often in people with type 1 diabetes. But people with type 2 diabetes also can get it. DKA can be caused by many things. It can happen if you don't take enough insulin. It can also happen if you have an infection or illness like influenza (flu). Sometimes it happens if you are very dehydrated.
DKA can only be treated with insulin and fluids. These are often given in a vein (IV).
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
To reduce your chance of ketoacidosis:
If you know your blood sugar is high, treat it before it gets worse.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
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Current as of: August 31, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
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