ABC Medical Center > Diabetic ketoacidosis

What is Diabetic ketoacidosis?

21:53 - 4 May , 2021


It is a condition caused by diabetes where the body generates an excessive amount of blood acids called ketones, causing a highly serious condition that, if not treated, can be fatal.

When the body is not able to produce enough insulin, a fat breakdown mechanism is activated to transform it into energy, accumulating ketones that without proper treatment can become diabetic ketoacidosis.

In addition to lack of insulin due to poorly administered or non-existent diabetes treatments, other factors can trigger it, such as:

  • Pancreatitis.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Alcoholism.
  • Drug addiction.
  • Some drugs such as diuretics and corticosteroids.
  • Physical shock.
  • Emotional trauma.
  • Heart attack.
  • Stroke.

Signs and symptoms Diabetic ketoacidosis

The symptoms usually evolve quickly, so in a matter of hours you can notice the following symptoms:

  • Stomachache.
  • Tiredness and weakness.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Confusion and loss of clarity.
  • Excess thirst.
  • Sweet taste and breath.
  • Frequent urge to urinate.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomit.

If you have any of these symptoms and your glucose level has exceeded 300 mg/dl, go immediately to the ABC Medical Center Emergency Room.

Diagnosis and treatment Diabetic ketoacidosis

Once your doctor reviews your symptoms and medical history, he or she will perform a physical examination and order a blood test to measure glucose, ketones, and blood acidity. If the cause of ketoacidosis is not clear, other tests may be performed to identify it, such as a urine test, X-rays, and an electrocardiogram.

Treatment for diabetic ketoacidosis includes the following:

  • Intravenous fluid supply.
  • Intravenous electrolytes.
  • Intravenous insulin administration.

Once stabilized, the causes of the condition will be confirmed and depending on it, your doctor will give you a treatment to follow to prevent recurrences or complications due to infections, heart attack, hypoglycemia, hypokalemia, or cerebral edema.

At ABC Medical Center’s Internal Medicine Department, we offer health care services with the highest quality and safety, from the prevention, diagnosis, timely treatment, and monitoring of infectious, respiratory, endocrinological, dermatological, rheumatic, nephrological, gastrointestinal, and hematological pathologies of both chronic-degenerative diseases and acute conditions, through a comprehensive and multidisciplinary model.


  • Guevara-Valerio H, Mari-Zapata DD, Arévalo-Villa DI, et al. Cetoacidosis diabética durante el embarazo: reporte de un caso. Ginecol Obstet Mex. 2020;88(07):471-476.
  • Phillips MO, Quesada VM, Esquivel RN. Emergencias hiperglicémicas. Revista Médica Sinergia. 2020;5(02):353-353.
  • Ortiz MA, Cox M, Medina MC, et al. Edema cerebral durante el tratamiento de la cetoacidosis diabética en un adulto con diabetes mellitus de debut. Rev Cub Med Int Emerg. 2017;16(2):57-63.
  • Chávez GN, García RM, Zaldívar SN, et al. Cetoacidosis diabética en niños menores de 15 años. Rev Cubana Med Gen Integr. 2014;30(1):93-102.

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