This is a severe condition caused by a lack of insulin or an increase of stress hormones. Ketones are dangerous acids which the body produces when there is not enough insulin and the body breaks down fat for fuel. The body will try to get rid of the ketones by excreting them in the urine. Another way to excrete ketones is in the form of acetone via exhalation through the lungs, causing a fruity odour on the breath.
People with type 1 should always test their urine for ketones if they feel their blood glucose is too high (above 12mmol/l) or if they are ill.
Symptoms of ketoacidosis
- Nausea, vomiting
- Tiredness and weakness
- Abdominal pain
- Heavy breathing, acetone odor
- Pain in the chest or side, respiratory distress
- Diabetes coma
Ketoacidosis is an extremely serious condition which can lead to seizures, coma and even death and requires urgent medical attention.
Causes of ketoacidosis
Ketoacidosis can occur at the onset of diabetes or if you are completely without insulin for 12-24 hours. It can also occur when you take your ordinary doses but your body needs more insulin, for example when you have an infection and are ill, especially if you have a fever.