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Raul Southgate

Raul Southgate

Diabetes Advocate

Articles by R. Southgate
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Do not take the information from this blog as medical advice in any way. Your diabetes require specialized care conducted by your currant doctor or by your medical care team. Do not change your medication or lifestyle based on information you may find here.

Although there is no known cure, diabetes can be kept under control by medication, dieting, and physical activities but only under professional attention, which this site does not offer.

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Ketoacidosis – Basics by Julian Laval

~ Ketoacidosis – Basics ~ 

Being an advocate for a cause is not easy and it implies, in fact, a lot of work not only maintaining a blog. Having a mine of resources is just a part of an advocate job. The source of knowledge must be known by many people and spreading the word becomes a priority. Couple of days ago i posted on quora.com a question about ketoacidosis hoping that i will get an answer from a professional.

After two days i got a great and detailed answer and, surprisingly, not from a pro but from a teenager, Julian Laval. Even if he claims that the answer is limited to basics, the information in it, the concise and easy to understand writing style, makes the answer valuable for diabetes cause. I do hope that many of you will find it helpful and I invite you to post your comments after you read it.


Good question!

According to Wikipedia:

Diabetic ketoacidosis is a potentially life-threatening complication in patients with diabetes mellitus.

In order to define ketoacidosis a little better, let’s go back to the source: diabetes. Someone who is diabetic is unable to produce insulin, a hormone necessary for the transfer of sugar from the bloodstream to the cells, which in turn produce energy. If this progression is disrupted, through lack of insulin for example, the body has to try to compensate by creating energy elsewhere.

And so the body starts to burn fat and muscle to meet its energy needs. Unfortunately, this chemical reaction produces molecules known as ketone bodies.

In small quantities, these are fine, and it is in fact normal to have traces of them in your blood (approximately 1mg/dl). However, if the quantity of ketones surpasses this threshold by too much, it starts to affect the pH of your blood (which becomes progressively more acidic). Even the slightest drop in pH can have dangerous effects: as the quantity of the ketones in your blood increases, and the blood pH diminishes, your kidneys start having problems.

Eventually, if the ketoacidosis is left untreated, your kidneys can fail and you can die from dehydration, tachycardia and hypotension. A number of other symptoms can appear in extreme cases.

Fortunately for us, the quantity of ketones has to be consequential, and it usually takes a while before individuals start manifesting symptoms. In my case, my diabetes went undiagnosed for a month and a half before it was discovered, and even then my ketone levels were relatively normal.

If you’re a diabetic, ketoacidosis can be easily avoided by controlling your blood sugar levels and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Some doctors, preferring to stay on the safe side, ask their patients to test their urine for ketones every once in a while with ketostix (a strip is dipped in your urine and changes colours depending on the ketone level).

If ketoacidosis is caught early on, treatment can be restricted to simply rehydrating through saline infusion and regularly taking insulin to control one’s blood sugar. The extra ketones are progressively expelled through the urine.

If the ketoacidosis is extensive, individuals are generally admitted to intensive care, and treated intravenously with other substances.

As you can probably see, my description of ketoacidosis remains rather basic, and is limited to my knowledge of it as a diabetic. I suggest you further research the topic if you’re interested in knowing the exact chemical reactions at play and such. Hopefully this will suffice to give you a brief overview of the condition!

Good luck!

Julian is 17 years old, web-developer & founder of Pictually.me He lives in Paris, France.


            Ketoacidosis InfoGrafic

Diabetic ketoacidosis concept map

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