DKA is a genuinely serious medical emergency. Without urgent treatment, this diabetes complication can lead to death. With adequate and rapid intervention and treatment, mortality rates are lowered to around 5%.
it occurs when the body has no insulin to use, and instead switches to burning fatty acids and producing acidic ketone bodies.
DKA may itself be the symptom of undiagnosed diabetes. It is thought that there are around a million undiagnosed diabetics in the UK alone. A high percentage of children are in DKA at diagnosis.
Typical symptoms include:
Confusion and sometimes even coma.
The symptoms usually evolve over a 24 hour period, with the first sign often being hyperglycaemia.
Treatment of DKA involves administering IV fluids to correct dehydration. Insulin is also required to instantly suppress the ketone bodies that the body manufactures. Treatment of other underlying causes of DKA must also be addressed, including infections.
Close observation of the patient to quickly identify and prevent complications is essential.
If you detect ketones and your blood sugar levels are also high, contact your dr or emergency services at once. It really is that serious.