Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a serious complication that can occur in those with diabetes when their body isn’t producing enough insulin [1]. When this happens, blood acids called ketones begin to build up in the body, resulting in serious complications if it’s not found and treated quickly.

See also: What Is Diabetes?

Symptoms of DKA

Though symptoms of DKA typically develop quite quickly, these are some early indicators you can keep an eye out for, these include [2]:

  • Thirst or a very dry mouth
  • Frequent urination
  • High blood glucose (blood sugar) levels

Further symptoms include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fruity-scented breath
  • Confusion

Causes of DKA

Though there are sometimes no known causes of DKA, there are certain factors that can make it more likely to happen in those with diabetes, including:

  • Having an infection (such as flu or a urinary tract infection)
  • Not following your treatment plan correctly
  • Taking certain medicines, such as steroids
  • Binge drinking
  • Using illegal drugs
  • Pregnancy
  • Having your period

Regularly checking your blood sugar levels is one of the best ways to notice an increase in your blood glucose levels. You can do this by visiting your doctor or with an at-home lab test.

LetsGetChecked’s at-home Diabetes Test measures your HbA1c levels and helps identify blood sugar abnormalities in addition to providing insight into how well a person's diabetes is being managed, with online results available within 5 days. Our dedicated medical team will be available every step of the way to answer any questions you may have.


  1. Mayo Clinic. Diabetic ketoacidosis. Online: Mayoclinic.org, 2019
  2. American Diabetes Association. DKA (Ketoacidosis) & Ketones. Online: Diabetes.org, 2020
  3. NHS. Diabetic ketoacidosis. Online: Nhs.uk, 2020