Diabetes is a disease in which your blood sugar (glucose) levels are too high.
Diabetic ketoacidosis is a serious complication of diabetes. It's often called DKA.
With DKA, your blood sugar goes up, acids called ketones build up in your blood, you lose a lot of fluid, and your body chemistry doesn't work right. You need treatment right away.
Your body needs insulin to use blood sugar for energy. If you don't have enough insulin (for example, because you have untreated type 1 diabetes), your blood sugar goes up a lot because the sugar can't get into your cells. Your body burns fat for energy instead. Broken-down fat goes to your liver and is turned into acids called ketones. The ketones build up in your blood and urine.
A high level of ketones in your blood can make you very sick.
If you have diabetes, you're more likely to get DKA if:
Common triggers of DKA include:
Blood tests to check your blood sugar, the level of ketones in your blood, and levels of certain electrolytes (minerals, such as sodium and potassium, that help with many important body functions)
To find problems that might be causing your DKA, doctors may do tests such as:
DKA is a medical emergency. You'll need to go to the hospital and may need to stay in the intensive care unit (ICU).
Doctors treat DKA with:
Doctors also treat whatever other problem caused the DKA.