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Understanding Diabetes: Ketosis vs Ketoacidosis


diabetes symptoms

With both my mother and father-in law suffering from diabetes, I can understand how difficult it can be to live with the disease. Unfortunately, every day seems to be a challenge for them!

So I have decided to share some facts about diabetes that some of you may not be aware of.

The words Ketosis and Ketoacidosis are linked to diabetes; however, only a few of us understand that there is a significant difference between both. 

Ketosis vs Ketoacidosis
Ketosis and Ketoacidosis are sometimes confused with each other, since they possess the same root word. These are two conditions linked to body metabolism and blood sugar. 

What is Ketosis
A condition in which your body begins to burn fat for energy because of lack of carbohydrates is known as Ketosis. Typically in individuals on a low-carb diet, inadequate intake of carbohydrates causes the body to start using the stored glucose in the liver. Once the glucose in liver gets exhausted, the body starts producing glucose from muscle mass and starts breaking down fat in order to meet its energy needs for normal functioning. As a result, more energy is released into the bloodstream and ketones are produced as a byproduct. This causes an accumulation of ketone molecules in the blood, thus making it acidic. Resultantly, the kidneys get irritated and start flushing out ketones through urine.

On the other hand, dietary ketosis is a helpful process that supports your weight loss goals by burning fat in the process in order to gain energy. With ketosis being a diet-induced process, it cannot be considered harmful, unlike the life-threatening condition of ketoacidosis.

What is Diabetic Ketoacidosis
It is a condition affecting type 1 diabetics, who have inadequate insulin levels in their bodies to process glucose properly. The insufficiency of insulin leads to several health complications, such as failure of the body to use sugar as a fuel source. Instead it is used to compensate the reduced energy levels. As a result, the body begins breaking down fat, which causes ketones. high blood glucose levels and inadequate insulin cause acidic ketones, which result in chemical imbalance and produce life-threatening symptoms.

Some children may also suffer from diabetic ketoacidosis as a result of undiagnosed diabetic mellitus. Diabetic ketoacidosis symptoms include:
  • Flushed skin
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Excessive thirst
  • Restlessness
  • Confusion
  • Fruity breath due to ketones

Proper diagnosis will help in timely intervention and treatment. If left untreated, diabetic ketoacidosis might develop into diabetic coma. 

Adults may experience the following diabetic Ketoacidosis symptoms:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Illness
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Dry mouth
  • Dehydration
  • Shortness of breath


The condition typically affects type 1 diabetes patients; however, some type 2 diabetes patients can develop this condition due to prolonged illness. Diabetic ketoacidosis is usually the result of prolonged illness, surgery, infection, or heart attack.

Ketosis vs Ketoacidosis: Key Differences
Now that we have understood the concept of Ketosis and Ketoacidosis, it is clear how both terms differ. While ketosis, in most cases, is a diet-induced condition that results in the body breaking down fats and fatty acids to burn energy because of inadequate carbohydrates, diabetic ketoacidosis is a condition when the body cannot use sugar to produce energy due to lack of insulin and thus uses its muscle mass, fats, and fatty acids.

Ketosis and ketoacidosis cause ketones production in the body.

In ketosis, there is no harm to the body due to ketones, as insulin manages their production, unlike ketoacidosis, wherein ketones become extremely acidic due to excessively high sugar levels and insufficient insulin. This causes chemical imbalance in the body.

Diabetic ketoacidosis is a serious medical condition due to excessively large blood glucose and low insulin levels in the body, which requires immediate medical attention. A person affected with diabetic ketoacidosis might suffer from blindness or loss of limbs. 

One of the most threatening complications of ketoacidosis, diabetic coma is the most threatening result of diabetic ketoacidosis.

Ketoacidosis Prevention
It is important to holistically follow your diabetes management program by taking regular doses of insulin, managing your blood glucose levels, eating a healthy diet, and following an exercise regimen.


References
http://www.hmc.psu.edu/childrens/healthinfo/d/diabeticketoacidosis.htm
http://www.deo.ucsf.edu/type2/diabetes-treatment/complications/diabetic-ketoacidosis.html
http://www.uiw.edu/nutrition/atkins/page3.html
http://www.netwellness.uc.edu/question.cfm/28782.htm



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