How Long Does It Take to Die from Diabetic Ketoacidosis?

Diabetic ketoacidosis is also known as DKA. And it can be a life-threatening disease, if not treated well. Historically, it is mostly seen in type one diabetes patients.

1. Why does it Happen?

It occurs due to the improper production of insulin by the pancreas when the body needs energy in the form of glucose and if it does not find any glucose, the blood sugar level, lower down it starts degrading fats in the liver for compensation that energy, which forms ketones in the blood and turned it acidic. That’s why it is named diabetic ketoacidosis DKA.

How Long Does It Take to Die from Diabetic Ketoacidosis? person using disposable syringe put specimen on blue and white glucose meter
By Matt C / Unsplash copyrights 2019

2. Symptoms of Diabetic Ketoacidosis

Some of the diabetic ketoacidosis symptoms are as follows have a look at them, they are seen as early symptoms in patients Who are likely to develop DKA. 

2.1. More Thirsty –

When any person is suffering from diabetes Keto acidosis DKA most of the time they feel excessively thirsty and is not only applicable to DKA but also to persons who are suffering from Diabetes Type 1 and Diabetes Type 2 patients also faces such problems, this one of the early signs of diabetic ketoacidosis DKA.

2.2. Urine Frequency –

The person suffering from this disease urinates more frequently than usual, this is one of the diabetic ketoacidosis symptoms.

2.3. Presence of Ketone Bodies in Urine –

A major amount of ketone content is present in their urine, which helps doctors diagnose diabetes ketoacidosis by performing urine ketone tests.

2.4. The Feeling of Weakness –

There is always a feeling of weakness in the person who is suffering from this disease and always feels fatigued due to low blood glucose levels. It is also one of the symptoms that happen in DKA.

2.5. Headache –

Another symptom of DKA is a headache. The patient frequently has headaches.

2.6. The Feeling of Nausea –

The patient can feel nausea and vomiting if they are suffering from diabetes ketoacidosis DKA.

2.7. Changed Breathing Behavior

Due to changes in the glucose level, the amount of oxygen in the blood gets lowered which causes shortness of breath, and the frequency of breathing changes, and it also gets fastened.

2.8. Affect Vision –

It also affects people’s vision because it can affect the optical nerve and also affects the eyesight causing blurry vision.

2.9. Vomiting –

If you are suffering from DKA you can face such symptoms of vomiting also.

2.10. Dry Mouth – 

Diabetic ketoacidosis can cause dry mouth due to low blood sugar levels,

3. Causes of Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA)

There are many causes of DKA let’s see some of them.

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By Towfiqu barbhuiya / Unsplash copyrights 2021

3.1. Low Level of Glucose –

The blood sugar level goes down when the production of insulin is reduced by the pancreas. It is commonly seen in Diabetic Type 1 people because there is too little insulin present in the body which begins fat degradation.

3.2. Fat Degradation –

Due to lower blood sugar levels, the fats that are stored in the body get degraded to provide energy to our body, which also causes the formation of too many ketones in the blood these ketones build up in the blood reducing the pH of the blood and making it acidic.

3.3. Infection in Urinary Tract –

If the person has an infection in the urinary tract, it causes rapid fat degradation and the formation of ketone bodies which leads to diabetes complications.

3.4. Consumption of Different Drugs –

If the person consumes any corticosteroids or diuretics it can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis, these are certain medicines that can also affect people’s immune system.

3.5. Suffering from any Trauma –

If the person is suffering from any trauma it can lead to a change in insulin level in the blood which results in low blood sugar levels, and it causes the breakdown of the fat for compensating the glucose level in blood.

3.6. Dehydration –

When a person is suffering from DKA, they lose a large number of electrolytes through urine which can cause dehydration. Also, they feel extremely thirsty.

3.7. Pregnancy – 

If any woman is pregnant lots of changes in hormones are going on in her body and in her blood, which also causes Diabetes Type 1 in those women.

4. Diagnosis of Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA) – 

Diagnosis of DKA can be done in various ways; some of the following tests are recommended.

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By Towfiqu barbhuiya / Unsplash copyrights 2021

4.1. Blood Test –

One can perform a blood test to identify the level of glucose in the blood if it is less than the normal blood glucose level it can be identified that the person is suffering from diabetic ketoacidosis DKA.

4.2. X-Ray –

If any person is showing any symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis, they can go for an X-ray which can confirm the disease by evaluating the conditions of the heart if the heartbeat varies from the normal heart it is identified via X-ray.

4.3. Urine Test –

A urine sample is checked in the laboratory for a urine ketone test, if the ketone level is found high in the urine it can confirm diabetic ketoacidosis.

4.4. ECG – 

The doctor can identify the change in the electrical activity of the heart with the use of ECG, which can confirm diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).

5. How Can Diabetic Ketoacidosis Be Life-threatening?

Diabetic ketoacidosis can be a life-threatening condition it can also lead to diabetic coma if it is not diagnosed in time and not treated in a good manner, it can be fatal too when the body begins to form ketone bodies by breaking down the fats and can increase the risk of ketone buildup in the bloodstream and makes it too acidic, this blood reaches to every organ of the body and it can interfere in their basic functioning which can cause some of the possible complications in the organs which are explained below.

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By Mykenzie Johnson / Unsplash copyrights 2020

5.1. Hypoglycemia –

“Hypo” means less and “glycemia” means glucose, when the production of insulin is improper the blood sugar level gets less which causes hypoglycemia.

5.2. Cerebral Edema –

“Cerebral” means a part of the brain “Edema” means swelling, when cerebral edema (brain swelling) occurs it can damage the nerves present in the brain.

5.3. Hypokalemia – 

A low level of potassium known as hypokalemia can cause many problems in muscles and heart rhythm due to electrolyte imbalance in the blood.

5.4. Hyperkalemia – 

The changes in the level of electrolytes can affect people’s immune system and due to an unbalance of electrolytes a times the level of potassium ions rises in human blood. Also known as hyperkalemia.

5.5. Cardiac Arrhythmias –

The heart rhythm is regulated by the ions or electrolytes present in the blood which provide signals to the brain for pumping the heart as the rate of electrolytes changes the heartbeat also changes which causes cardiac arrhythmias and can lead to a heart attack.

5.6. Pancreatitis – 

In pancreatitis, the pancreas does not function properly and is unable to produce insulin that can trigger DKA. 

6. Treatment of DKA – 

DKA can be treated in many ways, if you find any warning signs you should go for more than one test for its confirmation.

  1. The risk factors of developing DKA are high if the person is suffering from diabetes mellitus, to prevent diabetic ketoacidosis enough insulin should be provided to the patients through insulin therapy in which insulin doses are given because at that time our body demands more insulin, that can normalize the insulin pump in the body and helps in diabetic management.
  2. Patients who are at high risk can seek medical help and emergency care at the nearest emergency room as soon as possible, otherwise, it would harm them, and if within 24 hours they do not reach any emergency room it can lead to serious problems.
  3. The person should consume foods that are high in carbohydrates, high in protein content, they should increase the intake of fluids that are high in electrolytes especially salts for example IV fluids should be taken by the patient to maintain electrolyte balance in the body.
  4. Just after the ketones build-up starts in the body, they can feel the early symptoms and one has to rush to the hospital or some healthcare provider as soon as possible. They should inculcate good habits in their daily life like doing any physical activity that can maintain their physical health as well as mental health, to properly regulate certain hormones in our body.

7. How Serious is Diabetic Ketoacidosis?

If it is left untreated, it can take as little as 24 hours to die from this disease. That being said, one may not die from this disease, if it is treated in a good manner and total care is taken by the patients. Extreme care should be taken while following any diet, diabetic ketoacidosis can be treated easily by a diabetes team that is specially formed to treat diabetic patients, and many diabetic treatment plans are available can diabetes. 

I am a food technology student currently pursuing an M.Tech. degree in food engineering and technology. I also completed my bachelors in the same field. As a student in this field, I am passionate about learning more and exploring the many aspects of food…

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