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Symptoms and Signs of Diabetic Ketoacidosis Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and Complications

Doctor's Notes on Diabetic Ketoacidosis Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and Complications

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a variation of diabetes characterized by a combination of ketosis and acidosis (accumulation of ketones and increased acidity in the blood. The signs and symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis can include vomiting, excessive thirst, abdominal pain, dry skin and confusion. Patients may also exhibit loss of appetite, increased heart rate, low blood pressure, increased breathing rate, weakness and a fruity-like odor on the breath. If diabetic ketoacidosis is not treated and allowed to progress, it can cause death.

Common causes of diabetic ketoacidosis are dehydration, increasing blood sugar levels, infections, diarrhea, vomiting and missed doses of insulin or inadequate insulin levels. Other associated causes are stress, heart attacks, stroke, trauma, alcohol abuse, drug abuse and surgery; a few individuals have no identifiable cause.

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.