Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA)
In addition to the complications mentioned above, people with Type I Diabetes may develop a condition called Ketoacidosis which is caused by an almost complete lack of insulin in the body. In addition to very high sugar levels, the body’s fat will break down, as it becomes the only fuel the body uses. During this process, ketone bodies and fatty acids are released into the blood stream which leads to the blood becoming very acidic—hence the term Diabetic Ketoacidosis or DKA. If this occurs, the patient must be rushed to a hospital for lifesaving treatment. Many patients are initially diagnosed with type I diabetes when they are brought into their local emergency room extremely sick. They are usually quite lethargic, dehydrated, and breathing rapidly and have an accelerated heart rate. The doctor will discover the source of the symptoms by observing a very high sugar, an electrolyte imbalance, the acidosis, and acetone in the urine. DKA is a life-threatening condition and patients with this condition must be immediately treated in a hospital with intravenous fluids, insulin, and electrolyte correction. DKA may also occur when individuals with Type I Diabetes refrain from taking insulin, or develop an infection or another illness which stresses the body. Even though a physician may search for the inciting cause of DKA in an individual with stable type I diabetes, it sometimes occurs without a known cause.