First of all I want you to understand that acidosis is a life threatening condition that occurs mostly in type 1 diabetic patients, it is less commonly to occur in type 2 diabetics. It is also known as ketoacidosis.
It often happens when: there is lack of insulin, high levels of blood sugar the presence of certain acids (ketoacids) in the blood,and the presence of ketones in urine and blood.
This requires immediate hospitalization for urgent treatment with fluids and intravenous insulin.
Acidosis is caused by a lack of insulin when your doses are missed. This condition can also occur with well controlled diabetes if you get a severe infection or other serious condition, for example a heart attack or a cerebrovascular stroke.
As a consequence, these conditions may cause vomiting and rejection of the normal dose of injected insulin.
As you know, the insulin's main function is lowering your blood sugar level, as well as reducing the burning of body fat.
When the insulin level drops significantly, the body will start burning fat uncontrollably to raise blood sugar levels. Glucose and ketone bodies (from fat breakdown) will then begin to show up in your urine.
The body then turns acidic and attempts to reduce the level of acid by increasing the rate and depth of breathing; thus blows off carbon dioxide in the breath trying to correct the acidosis temporarily ( acidotic breathing).
Eventually, the body will be in a serious risk of dehydration because the high secretion of glucose into the urine causes large quantities of water and salts to be lost.
Symptoms of acidosis are the same as those for diabetes but much more severe such as increased thirst, increased urination, fatigue, confusion, and finally diabetic coma.
In addition, the symptoms of acidosis will occur too, including: fast breathing, a smell of acetone on your breathing, nausea plus vomiting, and stomach pains.
Acidosis is usually triggered by an infection, such as urine or chest infection. It can develop in a matter of hours to a few days, thus it usually develops very quickly.
Acidosis usually requires treatment in a hospital and sometimes in an intensive care unit.
Usually, this treatment consists of:
1.Injection of intravenous fluids, at first with salt-containing fluids and then glucose fluids.
2.Injection intravenous insulin.
3.Addition of potassium supplements to the infusion.
4.Antibiotics if an infection is identified.
You can prevent diabetic acidosis by keeping a tight control of your blood sugar levels, and regular measurement with a home glucose monitor will help you do this.
How can you diagnose acidosis?
The diagnosis is made by:
1. Measuring your blood glucose level, it will be in double figures and may be very high.
2. Measuring the level of ketones in your urine or blood. If they are present in a moderate or heavy amount, acidosis is likely to occur.
3. Taking a blood sample from an artery, this is done in hospital to measure accurately the acidity of the blood.
4. At the same time, the doctor will examine you for the presence of an infection.
You will recover completely within a few days, if the diabetic acidosis is diagnosed and treated early.
As you may probably see, it is very important to keep your blood sugar under control, to avoid further diabetes complications.Beat Diabetes › Diabetes Complications › Diabetic acidosis
Written by Dr.Albana Greca Sejdini, Md, MMedSc
Medically reviewed by Dr.Ruden Cakoni, MD, Endocrinologist