Symptoms of Diabetic Ketoacidosis

By  , Expert Content
Jan 03, 2012

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Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) develops rapidly and a patient can present with DKA in less than 24 hours after a precipitating factor (such as infection, injury etc). DKA mostly affects patients with type 1 diabetes, but it can affect patients with type 2 diabetes as well. Some common precipitating factors of DKA are infection, non-compliance with insulin therapy, cardiovascular disease, particularly myocardial infarction, injury and surgery.

A person with diabetic ketoacidosis may have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Excessive thirst or drinking plenty of fluid.
  • Increased frequency of urination.
  • General weakness or tiredness.
  • Nausea and vomiting, (about 50 to 80 percent of patients present with nausea and vomiting). Some patients (25 percent of vomiting patients) may have blood in vomiting usually from gastritis.
  • Pain on abdomen (abdominal pain is present in about 30 percent of the patients).
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Change in mental status may vary from confusion, altered consciousness to coma etc.
  • Shortness of breath, rapid breathing etc.
  • Generally ill appearance.


Some signs that may be observed in a person with DKA include:

  • Dry skin and dry mouth.
  • Rapid heart rate (tachycardia).
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension).
  • Fruity odour of breath.
  • Fever (when temperature is elevated, infection is invariably present). Some patients may have low or normal body temperature even with an infection.

Most patients with diabetic ketoacidosis are usually present with increased thirst, increased frequency of urination, weakness and rapid breathing.


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