If your doctor suspects diabetic ketoacidosis, he or she will do a physical exam and various blood tests. In some cases, additional tests may be needed to help determine what triggered the episode of diabetic ketoacidosis or what damage the ketoacidosis may have caused.
Blood tests used in the diagnosis of diabetic ketoacidosis will measure:
- Blood sugar level. If there isn't enough insulin in your body to allow sugar to enter your cells, your blood sugar level will rise (hyperglycemia). As your body breaks down fat and protein for energy, your blood sugar level will continue to rise.
- Ketone level. When your body breaks down fat and protein for energy, toxic acids known as ketones enter your bloodstream.
- Blood acidity. If you have excess ketones in your blood, your blood will become acidic (acidosis). This can alter the normal function of various organs throughout your body.
Your doctor may order tests to identify underlying health problems that may have contributed to diabetic ketoacidosis and check for complications. Tests may include:
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- Blood electrolyte tests
- Chest X-ray
- A recording of the electrical activity of the heart (electrocardiogram)
- Ketoacidosis (DKA). American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/ketoacidosis-dka.html. Accessed July 3, 2012.
- Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2013: 5 Books in 1. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/page.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-08373-7..C2010-0-68318-0&isbn=978-0-323-08373-7&uniqId=343834918-3#4-u1.0-B978-0-323-08373-7..C2010-0-68318-0--TOP. Accessed July 3, 2012.
- Kitabchi A, et al. Hyperglycemic crises in adult patients with diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2009;32:1335.
- Siafarikas A, et al. Type 1 diabetes in children: Emergency management. Australian Family Physician. 2010;39:290.
- Usher-Smith JA, et al. Factors associated with the presence of diabetic ketoacidosis at diagnosis of diabetes in children and young adults: A systematic review. British Medical Journal. 2011;343:d4092.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=9141196. Accessed July 3, 2012.
- McPhee SJ, et al. Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment 2012. 51st ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=15524. Accessed July 3, 2012.
- Checking for ketones. American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/blood-glucose-control/checking-for-ketones.html. Accessed July 3, 2012.
- Castro MR (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. July 6, 2012.
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