What Causes Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA)

300Diabetic ketoacidosis.  Diabetics everywhere know this term, . . . I hope.  What is diabetic ketoacidosis?  How is it different than ketosis?

I’ll start by explaining ketosis, and try to keep the sciencey (Yes it’s a word.  It’s MY word.) stuff to a minimum.  Ketosis is a natural body process that occurs when your muscles require fuel, but there’s none in your system.  That fuel starts out as carbs.  If you don’t get enough carbs, your body will naturally enter ketosis when your body starts to break down your fat, thus producing ketone bodies which it can use as fuel.  Your brain and your heart actually run more efficiently on ketones, than they do on glucose.  Our bodies were built to do this, to survive when there was no game to hunt, no plants to forage, no food nearby.  This is NOT dangerous, . . . it’s natural, unless you’re diabetic.  Why is it only dangerous for diabetics?

Because ketone bodies are acidic, and when they reach a certain level, a non-diabetic will secrete insulin, which reduces the ketones just like it does blood glucose.  We of course don’t have this mechanism.  When a diabetic gets ketones, and their blood glucose is above 250, this is the formula for diabetic ketoacidosis.  I know what you’re thinking.  I still haven’t told you what causes it.  Well, here we go.

What causes it is simply a lack of insulin or fuel.  A lack of insulin caused by a faulty infusion set, simply not taking your insulin, being sick and dehydrated, or not eating enough carbs.  The reason your body would enter ketosis is that it doesn’t have enough fuel in the form of carbs, OR . . . it has plenty of fuel, but not enough insulin to get it into the muscle cells.  If the body cannot process or does not have fuel, it will create it by breaking down fat.  This is ketosis.  NOW, your body can’t use the carbs you’ve eaten due to lack of insulin, AND ketones are rising because of lack of insulin.  Rising ketones turn your blood acidic.  This is what can kill you.  If you’re sick and you’re vomiting or have diarrhea, it’s even worse because that creates dehydration which causes insulin resistance!  Ever had ketones while you’re sick, and wonder why in the heck you have to take 3 times the insulin to bring down your blood sugar and ketones?  You need insulin for the blood sugar, for the ketones, and to compensate for the insulin resistance.  Now I can see the wheels turning in your head.

When you go to the hospital, they’re going to treat you with a saline IV, an insulin drip, and electrolytes.  These treat all of the symptoms of DKA all at once, and bring you back to normal.  Your dehydration, your high blood sugar, your high ketones, and your low electrolytes.  So . . . clear as mud now?  Well, I hope it’s clearer than mud for you.


********** Now ya know, and knowing is half the battle.  Go Joe!!! **********

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Blood Sugars Below 250

I think I got my first glucometer in my early teen years.  Before that, I peed on a paper test strip that measured sugar in my urine.  I don’t really remember how often I checked my blood sugar back then.  I know it wasn’t very often though.  Didn’t check it very often in my early adult life either.  Just kinda checked it maybe once or twice a day, took my Lantus and Regular insulin shots, and lived a rather normal life, without concern for my diabetes.  Never got A1C tests, never had an endo, just family doctors.  In my early 20’s one of those family doctors told me that the life expectancy of a type 1 diabetic was only 26 years.  I believed that for some stupid reason, and didn’t expect to have a 30th birthday.  When I reached my 30th birthday, I didn’t know what do with my life?!  Then I suffered cardiac arrest, at age 34, from undiagnosed heart disease cause by my uncontrolled diabetes.  Emergency quad bypass.  Healed quickly, recovered quickly.  After that, I started testing frequently.  Started living a different lifestyle.  Started exercising . . . . . . a lot.  Hung out with bodybuilders.  Started realizing just how out of control I was.  Started working my ass off trying to get healthy.

2 years ago I started trying to help others as a sort of health coach, which motivated me to try even harder at becoming healthier myself, and about 9 months ago I discovered the Paleo lifestyle, which has brought my A1C down by 2.5 points in just 6 months time.  I also discovered the Diabetic Online Community (#doc) about 9 months ago.  Having all of you from the #doc to talk to has really motivated me too.  Recently, I realized that I used to be satisfied with a blood sugar below 250, then it was 200.  Now I want it below 100 or I get annoyed.  I’m shooting for an A1C of 7.0 before the end of the year.  I wanna do what they say can’t be done.  There’s a long way to go, and a short time to get there.  (Anybody catch that?)

So do you remember when you were satisfied with blood sugars below 250 or 200?  If you’re sugars are still there regulary, I urge you to somehow find the motivation to fix that.  Connect with me, and I’ll connect you to the people of the #doc.  I’ll recommend good books for you to read, recommend supportive peeps and friends to connect with.  We can all help each other.  I don’t want what happened to me, to happen to you.  Dying sucks!  I speak from experience.  Please leave a comment if you can relate.



********** Now ya know, and knowing is half the battle.  Go Joe!!! **********

If you found this article helpful, please give it a LIKE and share it with others who might benefit from it.  Thanks for paying it forward!  If you’d like to connect with me, you’ll find my social networking profiles to the right:  ————————>

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