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How To Spot And Treat Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA)

How To Spot And Treat Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA) | The LOOP Blog [1]Even if you work hard at your diabetes management and use technology to help keep your numbers in range, you can still experience high blood glucose, which can escalate to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). While DKA can be scary if left untreated, it is preventable if you know what to look for and what to do. Senior District Clinical Manager, Melinda Turenne, BSN, RN, CDE, has more than 15 years of diabetes clinical experience. Today she shares some valuable DKA risk factors and prevention tips.

Living with diabetes involves a lot of duties. You are checking your blood glucose (BG), counting your carbohydrates, exercising, and keeping doctors’ appointments. I am sure you remember your doctor or diabetes educator telling you to check for ketones too, right? Checking my what? One more thing to add to my to-do list! Yes, and here is WHY.

What are ketones?

Ketones are acid molecules produced when we burn fat for energy or fuel. As fat is broken down, ketones build up in the blood and urine. In high levels, ketones are toxic and can make you very sick. When combined with dehydration, it can lead to Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA), a life threatening condition.

Why would DKA happen?

DKA occurs when there is not enough insulin present in the body. Without enough insulin, glucose builds up in the blood, causing high BG levels. Since the body is unable to use glucose without insulin for energy, it breaks down fat instead. This can occur for several reasons:

What are the signs of DKA?
When do I check for ketones?

Most experts recommend testing ketones:

How do I check for ketones?

You can check for ketones using a urine test or blood test, which are available at most pharmacies.

What do I do if ketones are present?

Recovery can vary depending on different complications that can occur, and each person is different. The most important aspects of DKA treatment is fluids and insulin so BG levels, dehydration, and ketosis are corrected slowly. Here are a few things to keep in mind when recovering from DKA:

You and your loved ones may find this Safety Rules Quick Reference Guide [3] for ways to treat high blood glucose levels helpful, too.

Guest Blogger – Melinda Turenne, BSN, RN, CDE

Melinda Turenne is a Registered Nurse, Clinical Diabetes Educator, and Medtronic Senior Diabetes Clinical Manager. Melinda enjoys providing people with diabetes the information, knowledge, and support they need to improve their diabetes management. Prior to working for Medtronic, she worked as a Clinical Diabetes Educator for five years at a large hospital system.


– Medtronic Diabetes insulin infusion pumps, continuous glucose monitoring systems and associated components are limited to sale by or on the order of a physician and should only be used under the direction of a healthcare professional familiar with the risks associated with the use of these systems.

– Successful operation of the insulin infusion pumps and/or continuous glucose monitoring systems requires adequate vision and hearing to recognize alerts and alarms.

Medtronic Diabetes Insulin Infusion Pumps

– Insulin pump therapy is not recommended for individuals who are unable or unwilling to perform a minimum of four blood glucose tests per day.

– Insulin pumps use rapid-acting insulin. If your insulin delivery is interrupted for any reason, you must be prepared to replace the missed insulin immediately.

Medtronic Diabetes Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) Systems

– The information provided by CGM systems is intended to supplement, not replace, blood glucose information obtained using a home glucose meter. A confirmatory fingerstick is required prior to treatment.

– Insertion of a glucose sensor may cause bleeding or irritation at the insertion site. Consult a physician immediately if you experience significant pain or if you suspect that the site is infected.

For more information, please visit http://www.medtronicdiabetes.com/important-safety-information [4].