Diabetic Ketoacidosis: Risk Factors, Treatments and Prevention

Diabetic ketoacidosis may lead to severe complications and should be treated in a timely manner. Usually, diabetic ketoacidosis is diagnosed by medical assessment and blood ketone test. However, if you suspect that you or someone you know may have ketoacidosis, a home ketone strip test may be helpful. The test is usually indicated if the blood sugar levels are over 12.5 mmol/L but may also be done if someone experiences symptoms associated with diabetic ketoacidosis (such as frequent urination, fruity breath, feeling thirsty, tiredness, and confusion, etc). You may visit us at Guildview pharmacy, and we will do the test for you.

Some people are at an increased risk of developing this condition. So familiarizing with the risk factors may be a good idea:
1. Having type 1 diabetes
2. Missing insulin doses or not taking enough insulin
3. Reduced food and fluid intake
4. Presence of another short term illness such as an infection
5. Excessive alcohol intake
6. Using clogged insulin pen, pump, or syringe.

If someone has developed diabetic ketoacidosis, medical attention may be necessary especially if the symptoms are too severe, such as impaired consciousness, or difficulty breathing. In that case, the treatment would be given at a hospital. Treatment includes giving the patient fluids by mouth or through injection followed by injecting potassium to normalize potassium levels and finally administering insulin. Once the patient’s vital signs are normalized, laboratory tests are done to ensure that ketoacidosis is resolved.

In case, the symptoms are not that serious and the home ketone strip test has confirmed ketoacidosis, certain measures can be taken at home to take care of it. These include drinking plenty of drinks and fluids (especially the ones containing potassium such as Gatorade or Pedialyte), eating foods rich in carbohydrates (such as rice and potatoes, etc.), and restoring normal insulin dosing regimen. Once the ketoacidosis subsides, however, cutting back on carbohydrates would be advisable. We also recommend seeing your doctor for further investigation.

For the prevention of diabetic ketoacidosis in the future, it is very important to keep blood sugar levels in range. Following measures can help reduce the risk of ketoacidosis in diabetics

1. Regularly taking insulin and other medications for diabetes management
2. Adjusting insulin according to your needs after discussing with your doctor,
pharmacist and/or nurse practitioner
3. Monitoring blood sugar levels and keeping a diary
4. Self-monitoring symptoms of low and high blood sugar levels
5. Maintaining a healthy diet and adequate fluid intake

6. Having regular follow-up appointments with your doctor, pharmacist and/or nurse

For more information or advice regarding diabetes or anti-diabetic therapy management, you may contact us at Guildview pharmacy and we will help you in achieving your glucose targets. Our pharmacists are trained in diabetes education and have been helping our patients in managing diabetes.

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