Diabetic ketoacidosis is a serious complication of diabetes that occurs when your body produces high levels of blood acids called ketones.The condition develops when your body can't produce enough insulin. Insulin normally plays a key role in helping sugar (glucose) - a major source of energy for your muscles and other tissues - enter your cells. Without enough insulin, your body begins to break down fat as fuel. This process produces a build-up of acids in the bloodstream called ketones, eventually leading to diabetic ketoacidosis if untreated.
Diabetic ketoacidosis is an emergency and requires urgent medical attention, often in and intensive care setting. The goal of treatment is to correct the elevated blood glucose level by giving additional insulin and to replace fluids and electrolytes lost through excessive urination and vomiting. You will require close monitoring including regular finger prick glucose measurements, vital observations, fluid charts, blood tests and ECG monitoring. You may need a catheter into the bladder to measure urine output accurately. Monitoring is essential as there is a very fine balance between the fluid and electrolyte levels in your body.
According to Eurostat data on hospital discharges, there are around 900 000 diabetes mellitus hospitalisations in the EU in a typical year (2009). The Euro barometer survey carried out in 1996 and 2002 on health preventive examinations on Europeans reveals that, overall, taking own initiative, doctor's initiative and screening programmes together, 21.4% of the EU-15 population said they had a diabetes test in 2002. This is a few percentage points higher than the number of Europeans saying so six years previously (20.2% in 1996). Females (23.0% in 2002) were tested more than males (19.6% in 2002).
A blood sugar reading of 11 mmol/l or more is a sign that you're at risk of diabetic ketoacidosis and should check your ketone level if you feel ill. A ketone level reading of 2+ or more on urine strips or 0.6 mmol/l or more in your blood is a sign that you need to take immediate action to correct your levels.Adjusting your insulin dose as advised by your diabetes care team will often correct your blood sugar and ketone levels, preventing diabetic ketoacidosis. Seeking medical advice if levels remain high after taking insulin.