Ketosis Vs. Ketoacidosis: Things You Should Know!

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What is Ketoacidosis?

Despite the resemblance in name, ketosis and ketoacidosis are two very different things.

Ketoacidosis refers to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) and is a complication of type 1 diabetes mellitus. It’s a life-threatening condition caused due to dangerously high levels of ketones and blood glucose levels. This rare combination makes the blood highly acidic, which can affect the normal functioning of internal organs like your liver and kidneys. It’s vital that you get timely treatment.

DKA can occur very speedily. It may develop in less than 24 hours. It frequently occurs in people with type 1 diabetes whose bodies do not produce enough functional insulin.


What is ketosis?

Ketosis is the presence of ketones in the body. It’s not harmful.

You can be in ketosis if you’re following a low-carbohydrate diet or fasting, or if you’ve consumed a lot of alcohol. If your body is in the state of ketosis, you will have a higher than normal level of ketones in your blood or urine, but not too high to cause acidosis. Ketones are byproducts your body produces when it burns stored fat cells.

Some people choose a low-carb diet to help with their weight loss goals. While there is some debate over their safety, low-carb diets are generally safe to follow. Talk to your physician before beginning any acute diet plan.


What are the symptoms of ketosis and ketoacidosis?

Ketosis may result in bad breath. Ketones are broken down for use as an energy source, and acetone is one of the byproducts that is flushed out from the body in the urine and through breath. This may cause a bad fruity smell.

On the other hand, the symptoms of ketoacidosis are:

  • excessive thirst
  • recurrent urination
  • dehydration
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • stomach ache
  • fatigue
  • bad fruity smelling breath
  • shortness of breath
  • feelings of confusion

DKA symptoms can often be the first sign that you have diabetes.


What triggers ketosis and ketoacidosis?


Triggers for ketosis

A low-carb diet can trigger ketosis. That is because a low-carb diet will result in having less glucose in your blood, which will, in turn, force your body to burn fat storage for producing energy instead of relying on carbohydrates.

Triggers for ketoacidosis

Bad diabetes management is one of the most common triggers for DKA. In people with diabetes, missing one or more insulin dose or not using the sufficient amount of insulin can lead to DKA. An illness or infection, as well as some drugs, can also stop your body from utilizing insulin properly. This can lead to DKA. For example, pneumonia and urinary tract infections are few common DKA triggers.


Treatment of ketosis and ketoacidosis

If you have ketosis, you do not need to get any treatment.

However, you may need to go to the emergency service or get admitted in the hospital if you have DKA. Treatment typically involves:

  • intravenous fluid
  • replenishing of electrolytes like chloride, sodium, or potassium
  • insulin shots until your blood sugar level is below 240 mg/dL
  • screening for other trigger problems you can have, such as infection

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