Diabetes And Ketones Can Produce A Fatal Combination

When ketones appear in the urine, they signify high levels of blood acids and ill-controlled diabetes. Surprisingly, some people may recognize their diabetes only due to diabetic ketoacidosis appearing as the first sign. When left unattended, the condition can become complicated and eve turn fatal.

Ketones signify that the body is utilizing fat instead of glucose for generating energy. This is owing to insufficient insulin availability and can be more commonly observed in people suffering from type 1 diabetes.

Complications Arising Out Of Ketones In People With Diabetes

Diabetic Ketoacidosis

Urine showing ketones can be an alarming sign for people having diabetes requiring quick medical intervention.  Diabetic ketoacidosis is a severe complication arising out of high levels of blood acids (ketones). Since there is not sufficient insulin production, the body starts to rely on the alternate source of fuel – fat.

This leads to intoxication of the bloodstream causing diabetic ketoacidosis.  Excessive ketones can lead to poisoning of the body. Other unfavorable outcomes include severe dehydration and swelling of the brain.

Diabetic ketoacidosis can also case loss of consciousness, interfering with body’s metabolism. Increased ketones can increase the intensity of illness. Almost 50% of the diabetes-related hospitalizations (type 1 diabetes) can be accounted to this condition. Children below 4 years of age are the most risky ones.

Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome

Ketones build up can also lead to abruptly changing fluid levels causing the lungs to fill up. This condition, called adult respiratory distress syndrome, can create serious breathing problems.

Coma Or Death

When ketones reach dangerous levels in people suffering from diabetes, diabetic coma or even death can occur.  It is very important to check for ketones through examinations and warning signals.

Complications Of Treating Ketoacidosis

People having diabetes or at risk for diabetes should be aware of the warning signs of diabetic ketoacidosis. Diabetic ketoacidosis can be highest among people having type 1 diabetes,  those missing insulin too often and people younger than 19. Treatment of diabetic ketoacidosis can, unfortunately, pose some complications. These include hypoglycemia, hypokalemia and cerebral edema.


Low blood glucose or hypoglycemia can be a complication of treating diabetic ketoacidosis. When there is a sudden (quick) drop in blood sugar level due to insulin administration, there can be incidence of hypoglycemia.


Treatment may also cause low potassium levels in people having diabetes. Low potassium can be bad for heart and muscle related activities.

Cerebral Edema

During treatment, if blood sugar level is adjusted too quickly it can cause swelling in the brain. Cerebral edema can be observed more commonly in children. It is a chronic condition as it can cause severe brain damage. One in four people having cerebral edema can experience death.

Diabetic ketoacidosis should not be left untreated as the risks can be greater then. The possibility of complications arising out of treating diabetic ketoacidosis are not common now, although they can prove to be concerning when they occur.

Ketoacidosis, which generally develops slowly, can become a fatal condition within a matter of hours.  Attending it immediately is crucial for avoiding life-threatening conditions.

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