During the time that I was in the hospital in England, the doctors thought I may have been going through DKA otherwise known as Diabetic Ketoacidosis. Turns out I wasn’t, but it lead to a lot of questions from my friends and family about what that exactly meant.
Basically, it is when the body stops using glucose (or sugar) as a fuel source and starts using fat, which breaks down and causes ketones(which are acids) to become present. When ketone levels get too high, they can become poisonous and this is when it turns into ketoacidosis.
The symptoms can vary, but typically the diabetic person will have stomach pain, nausea and vomiting, and a fruity smell on their breath. They can also have difficult time breathing, lose consciousness or have dulled senses that can turn into a coma. Quite often these people get very fatigued and have a bad headache and muscle pains.
This is actually how I was diagnosed. A lot of people with Type 1 diabetes are diagnosed based on symptoms from ketoacidosis.
These symptoms usually occur when a diabetic’s blood sugar is over 240 mg/dL. In my case, I was well over 400 at my diagnosis. Ketone tests are also done, however, when someone has pneumonia, a heart attach, a stroke or during pregnancy. In all those cases ketones may be present.
When my blood tests were done during ketoacidosis, my CO2, magnesium, phosphorus and sodium blood tests were also affected. This was another sign that I was likely going through DKA.
When this happened, I needed to get insulin in my system and replace my deficient electrolytes right away. Acidosis can lead to sever illness or death; quite often by fluid buildup up in the brain (cerebral adema), a heart attach or kidney failure. This can occur of blood sugar levels are not treated or if the diagnosis came late and there was delayed treatment (as in my case).
I am fortunate to have had wonderful support from my family, the Cleveland Clinic, and Lakewood Hospital in order to help me manage my diabetes to avoid these issues in the future. Please help others avoid these issues as well by donating to the charity I support through Lakewood Hospital. Thank you for reading!
Have a wonderful day.