If you're diagnosed with diabetic ketoacidosis, you might be treated in the emergency room or admitted to the hospital. Treatment usually involves:
- Fluid replacement. You'll receive fluids — either by mouth or through a vein (intravenously) — until you're rehydrated. The fluids will replace those you've lost through excessive urination, as well as help dilute the excess sugar in your blood.
- Electrolyte replacement. Electrolytes are minerals in your blood that carry an electric charge, such as sodium, potassium and chloride. The absence of insulin can lower the level of several electrolytes in your blood. You'll receive electrolytes through a vein to help keep your heart, muscles and nerve cells functioning normally.
- Insulin therapy. Insulin reverses the processes that cause diabetic ketoacidosis. In addition to fluids and electrolytes, you'll receive insulin therapy — usually through a vein. When your blood sugar level falls below 240 mg/dL (13.3 mmol/L) and your blood is no longer acidic, you may be able to stop intravenous insulin therapy and resume your normal insulin therapy.
As your body chemistry returns to normal, your doctor will consider additional testing to check for possible triggers for the diabetic ketoacidosis. Depending on circumstances, you might need additional treatment.
For example, for previously undiagnosed diabetes, your doctor will help you create a diabetes treatment plan. For a bacterial infection, he or she might prescribe antibiotics. If a heart attack seems possible, your doctor might recommend further evaluation of your heart.
Aug. 21, 2015
- Ketoacidosis (DKA). American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/ketoacidosis-dka.html. Accessed Aug. 2, 2015.
- 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.
- Jeffries CA, et al. Preventing diabetic ketoacidosis. Pediatric Clinics of North America. 2015;62:857.
- 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.