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What is DKA?

· Type 1 Diabetes,Type 2 Diabetes,Diabetes Solutions,Diabetes Support,Resources

Lately, we have been hearing a lot of talk about "ketosis" with people doing the ketogenic diet. But, aren't ketones a bad thing? 

Many of us know that when we were diagnosed with diabetes, our bodies went into "DKA". But what exactly are ketones? And what exactly does DKA mean?

Ketones vs DKA

Ketones are the chemicals produced in the liver when the body does not have enough sugar to be turned into energy. The ketones are then used for energy, and help you loose weight quickly. Having ketones in your blood puts you in a state of "ketosis", but can quickly become dangerous for a diabetic. 

DKA stands for Diabetic Ketoacidosis. It is a serious complication of diabetes where your body is producing ridiculous amounts of a blood acid, called "ketones". 

This happens when your body is not producing enough insulin, or you're not injecting enough insulin. Without the insulin, your body is breaking down your fats to make energy, in turn producing acids in your blood, which lead to DKA.


If you are experiencing these symptoms, you may have high levels of ketones: 

  • excessive urination
  • vomiting
  • excessive thirst
  • weakness 
  • no breath
  • fruity smell on your breath
  • intense confusion

Should I go to the doctor?

If you are experiencing these symptoms,  go get a blood sugar check immediately. If you are already diabetic, definitely do a ketones pee test. 
You need to go to the doctor if:
  • your blood sugar level has been high for a while and is not responding to insulin
  • your urine ketone levels are moderate or high
  • you can not keep food in your stomach and are being forced to vomit it. 

Reasons for Ketones 

DKA can happen when there is an issue with your body utilizing your sugars properly. When they cannot be broken down, your body turns directly to your fats to be broken down and used as energy. DKA can be triggered by multiple things:
1) an issue with your current insulin doses
2) a bacteria/illness going around
3) alcohol abuse 
4) trauma

5) certain medications (see back leaflet of your drugs for more information)


The good news is that you can prevent yourself from falling into DKA by following these suggestions:

  • adjust your insulin as needed: if you feel like you are taking too little insulin in the evening, take more to reduce those high blood sugars. Go up on 1 unit each meal until you feel like your doses have regulated.
  • check ketones often: if you feel any of the symptoms or are having a blood sugar above 200 mg/dL, do a quick urine test with a ketone strip. It can't hurt to be preventive! 
  • monitor your sugars: the closer you monitor the trends in your sugars, the quicker you will be to catch any slip from happening and take the necessary decision. 
  • commit to your diabetes: it is your best friend! Take care of it, make it your baby, and most of all, always watch out for yourself and make the most constructive decisions for yourself! 
  • be prepared! have your doctor on speed dial to be quick to tackle the situation! 
And remember to use The Spike App to send you insulin reminders and food suggestions!! 
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