February 10, 2006, Newsletter Issue #41: Ketoacidosis and Diabetes

Tip of the Week

Normally, insulin allows our bodies to use sugar for energy by opening receptor sites on our cells that allow blood sugar to go into the cell for use as fuel. When there is not enough insulin, the cells cannot use the sugar present in the bloodstream, and they will attempt to use body stores of protein and fat for energy, instead.

Metabolizing fat is not an efficient method of energy production, and it produces a toxic by-product known as "ketones." As ketones build up in the bloodstream, they may show up in the urine, as the body attempts to eliminate them from the bloodstream.

They may also cause the person to become ill. Symptoms of ketoacidosis include:

1) nausea, vomiting
2) "fruity" breath - may be mistaken
for alcohol smell
3) labored breathing
4) frequent urination
5) drowsiness or changes in mentation
6) dry skin, itching
7) thirst
8) high blood sugar levels

Ketoacidosis is a sign that there is not enough insulin to transport sugar for fuel, and must be treated immediately. It is not uncommon for someone to become ill, with ketoacidosis, then find out that they have diabetes.

Once diagnosed, it is important to follow diet, exercise and medication regimes to prevent any further episodes of ketoacidosis, as this can contribute to brain injury and even death.

Talk to your doctor about ketoacidosis and the best way to control your blood sugars.

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