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What is ketoacidosis and what are the most common types of it?

In order to understand what exactly ketoacidosis is, it is necessary to know what the ketosis and ketone bodies are. In plain words, ketosis is the state of the body characterized by the increased levels of ketone bodies in the blood, which are formed during the process of breaking down fatty acids, in order to transform them into energy. This process takes place in the liver and kidneys, and ketones are a source of energy for two very important organs in the body, the heart and the brain.

Ketoacidosis is a condition in which the body is not able to regulate the production of ketones, which leads to the accumulation of keto acids in the blood, resulting further in the decreased pH of the blood and its increased acidity. Since the body cannot produce enough insulin, which would slow down this production, ketoacidosis is very common in people who use alcohol excessively, as well as in those who suffer from type 1 diabetes, or in those who fast. This is why two most frequent types of ketoacidosis are diabetic and alcoholic ketoacidosis.

What are the most common causes of ketoacidosis?

Diabetic ketoacidosis may be caused by several factors, and among them the most usual are either infection or an illness that results in the production of certain hormones that work against insulin. For example, pneumonia, very high fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and infection of the urinary tract are such causes. Skipping insulin therapy may lead to the inadequate amount of insulin in the body, which will also result in ketoacidosis. On the other side, some kind of trauma, either physical or emotional, heart attack, stroke, stress, abuse of drugs or alcohol may also lead to ketoacidosis. The person with this condition will experience constant thirst, loss of appetite, pain in the abdomen, shortness of breath, smelly breath or tiredness. It is possible to feel nausea as well, or more frequent urge to urinate. Parameters that indicate this condition are high level of sugar in the blood and ketones in the urine. However, whichever the cause of ketoacidosis may be, the treatment will require fluid and electrolyte replacement, as well as insulin therapy, and after that, the doctor will consider all the possible causes, and see if it is necessary to include some other therapy in the process of the treatment.

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