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Diabetic Acidosis - General Info

Diabetic acidosis (also known as ketoacidosis) is a serious medical condition which may affect the people suffering from type 1 diabetes. It is not so common for type 2 diabetes. Once the condition has occurred it needs to be treated promptly. The patients are hospitalized and are administered fluids and insulin.

Diabetic acidosis is basically caused by lack of insulin. The condition features with high levels of glucose in the blood, the presence of ketones in blood and urine and the presence of ketoacids in the blood. Diabetic ketoacidosis may be the first sign of the presence of type 1 diabetes or it can occur due to inappropriate treatment of type 1 diabetes. Still, it is also possible if the disease is well controlled and patients develop severe infection or other medical condition such as heart attack or stroke.

Causes of Diabetic Acidosis

As it has already been mentioned diabetic acidosis is a consequence of lack of insulin.

Since insulin is in charge with lowering the blood sugar level and reduction of body fat burning in case of diabetic acidosis the level of sugar in the blood is extremely high and the body starts burning fat. Increased level of glucose in the blood eventually leads to increased levels of glucose in the urine and excessive burning of the fats causes the presence of ketone bodies. The ketone bodies turn the body acidic. The body tries to reduce the level of acidity and the patient increases the rate and depth of breathing which temporary corrects the acidosis. Excessive excretion of glucose in the urine also leads to loss of water and salts which eventually leads to dehydration.

Symptoms of Diabetic Acidosis

The symptoms initially include increased thirst and urination, fatigue and confusion. In case the blood sugar levels are very high the patient may develop diabetic coma.

Characteristic symptoms of diabetic acidosis are fast and deep breathing and a smell of acetone on patient's breath. The patients also complain about nausea, vomiting and stomach pains.

Diagnosis and Treatment for Diabetic Acidosis

Diagnosis of diabetic acidosis can be confirmed by measuring the blood glucose levels, the level of ketones in the blood or urine and by measuring the acidity of the blood. This together with physical manifestations helps the doctor in setting of the definitive diagnosis.

Treatment for diabetic acidosis includes administration of intravenous insulin, intravenous fluids, and potassium supplements which are added to the infusion. If there are symptoms and signs of infection patients are additionally administered antibiotics.

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