Find Diabetes Clinics »

Ketoacidosis is a very serious life threatening emergency that requires immediate medical treatment. It literally means a very high level of ketones within the blood, leading to a high level of acid within the blood.

Ketones are substances that are produced naturally when fat or proteins are broken down within our bodies. They are only usually found in very low levels in healthy people, when they don’t have enough glucose in their blood, i.e. when fasting. When you are not eating between meals your body uses fats and proteins as sources of energy, thus increasing the amount of ketones within your blood.

This ketone production is usually not a problem, as it is stopped when your body begins to produce and release insulin following a meal. If you suffer from diabetes, your body is unable to produce the insulin to stop the excessive production of these ketone bodies. Without any insulin replacement the condition worsens and the levels of ketones in your blood rise rapidly. This is very dangerous as the more ketones and glucose there is in your blood, the more acidic you blood gets. This starts to pull water out of your body in a process called osmosis, causing you to become dehydrated with a high level of glucose in your urine. If this condition, known as diabetic ketoacidosis is not treated rapidly it can lead to coma and death.