Diabetic ketoacidosis signs and symptoms often develop quickly, sometimes within 24 hours. For some, these signs and symptoms may be the first indication of having diabetes. You may notice:
- Excessive thirst
- Frequent urination
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain
- Weakness or fatigue
- Shortness of breath
- Fruity-scented breath
More-specific signs of diabetic ketoacidosis — which can be detected through home blood and urine testing kits — include:
- High blood sugar level (hyperglycemia)
- High ketone levels in your urine
When to see a doctor
If you feel ill or stressed or you've had a recent illness or injury, check your blood sugar level often. You might also try an over-the-counter urine ketones testing kit.
Contact your doctor immediately if:
- You're vomiting and unable to tolerate food or liquid
- Your blood sugar level is higher than your target range and doesn't respond to home treatment
- Your urine ketone level is moderate or high
Seek emergency care if:
- Your blood sugar level is consistently higher than 300 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or 16.7 millimoles per liter (mmol/L)
- You have ketones in your urine and can't reach your doctor for advice
- You have multiple signs and symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis — excessive thirst, frequent urination, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, shortness of breath, fruity-scented breath, confusion
Remember, untreated diabetic ketoacidosis can be fatal.
Aug. 21, 2015
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- Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). Merck Manuel Professional Version. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/endocrine-and-metabolic-disorders/diabetes-mellitus-and-disorders-of-carbohydrate-metabolism/diabetic-ketoacidosis-dka. Accessed Aug. 2, 2015.
- Kitabchi AE, et al. Diabetic ketoacidosis and hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state in adults: Clinical features, evaluation and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 2, 2015.
- Kitabchi AE, et al. Diabetic ketoacidosis and hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state in adults: Treatment. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 2, 2015.
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- Checking for ketones. American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/blood-glucose-control/checking-for-ketones.html. Accessed Aug. 2, 2015.