Saturday, December 20, 2014

Diabetic ketoacidosis

Table of Contents

Definition

Diabetic ketoacidosis is a complication of diabetes that occurs when the body cannot use sugar (glucose) as a fuel source because the body has no insulin or not enough insulin, and fat is used instead. Byproducts of fat breakdown, called ketones, build up in the body.


Alternative Names

DKA; Ketoacidosis


Causes, incidence, and risk factors

People with type 1 diabetes lack enough insulin, a hormone the body uses to process glucose (blood sugar) for energy. When glucose is not available, body fat is broken down instead.

As fats are broken down, acids called ketones build up in the blood and urine. In high levels, ketones are poisonous. This condition is known as ketoacidosis

Blood glucose levels rise (usually higher than 300 mg/dL) because the liver produces glucose to try to combat the problem. However the cells cannot pull in that glucose without insulin.

Diabetic ketoacidosis may lead to a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes, because it is often the first symptom that causes a person to see a doctor. It can also be the result of increased insulin needs in someone already diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Infection, trauma, heart attack, or surgery can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis in such cases. Missing doses of insulin can also lead to ketoacidosis in people with diabetes.

People with type 2 diabetes can develop ketoacidosis, but it is rare. It is usually triggered by a severe illness. People of Hispanic and African-American ethnicity seem to be more likely to have ketoacidosis as a complication of type 2 diabetes.



Review Date: 04/19/2010
Reviewed By: Ari S. Eckman, MD, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org)