What causes diabetic ketoacidosis?

Diabetic ketoacidosis is usually triggered by the high levels of ketones and glucose in the blood.


This can be caused by:

  • Unaware of diabetes in the body. Most people are not aware of their blood sugar level and consume high levels of glucose on a daily basis. A regular medical check-up can help detect it earlier
  • An illness or infection that causes the body to produce higher levels of certain hormones, such as adrenaline. These hormones counter the effect of insulin, leading to low levels of insulin to break down the sugar in the body
  • Missed insulin therapy or treatments, as well as malfunctioning insulin pumps may lead to diabetic ketoacidosis
  • Sudden health problems, such as heart attack, pneumonia or urinary tract infection
  • Consumption of illegal drugs such as cocaine

What are the treatment complications of diabetic ketoacidosis?

Diabetic ketoacidosis is treated with fluids, electrolytes namely sodium, potassium, chloride and mainly insulin. The most common complications, however, come from these treatments, which include:

  • Low blood sugar / hypoglycemia. Insulin that is added to the body allows sugar to enter body cells, causing blood sugar level to drop drastically
  • Low levels of potassium / hypokalemia. The extra fluids and insulin in the body causes potassium levels to drop very low, leading to heart, muscles and nerves impairment
  • Brain swelling / cerebral edema. The sudden adjustment in the blood sugar level can lead to swelling in the brain, more common among children newly diagnosed with diabetes


If left untreated, diabetic ketoacidosis can lead to loss of consciousness and, eventually, death.


Diabetes is a long term disease and will need to be managed with care. At Regency Specialist Hospital, our Diabetes Care Unit is equipped with specialists and supporting healthcare professionals who are ready to help you improve your health condition.

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