All About DKA


What is DKA?

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a complication from diabetes that can be serious and life-threatening. DKA is often a common factor when first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and can often be mistaken for flu symptoms. It also occurs during the management of the disease when the body is not receiving enough insulin to break down glucose. This forces the body to start breaking down fat as fuel and ketones are then released into the body. Elevated ketones in the urine, severe weight loss, extreme thirst, blurry vision, lethargy and disorientation are all signs of DKA. If left untreated, DKA will lead to coma and death.

Beyond Type 1’s #SeeTheSigns Diabetes Awareness Campaign

Want to help save lives and spread awareness as to what DKA is? Be a part of Beyond Type 1’s #SeeTheSigns Diabetes Awareness Campaign. We are putting warning signs of type 1 diabetes posters in every pediatrician’s office so both parents and physicians can be reminded of what type 1 looks like in diagnosis.

DKA at diagnosis


Why is Type 1 Diabetes Misdiagnosed?

Many people with type 1 share a similar diagnosis story. They display all the classic symptoms (extreme thirst, weight loss, frequent urination, nausea) and were fortunate enough to be accurately diag...MORE

DKA: Raising Awareness To Save Lives

Take 60 seconds to pass along what you know - you never know who's life you might save. No one, especially a child, should die because we weren’t paying close enough attention. MORE


Travels With (New) Diabetes

I will never forget the summer that changed my life forever.MORE

Mason’s Journey

I could use overwhelming and scary words to describe these few days, but I think the best way to explain it is to imagine you are thrown into the middle of the ocean surrounded by sharks. MORE

Levi’s Story

It was Friday, March 7, 2014, at 5 a.m., and despite a sleepless night rocking Levi, I was awake and anxiously waiting for the doctor's office to open.MORE

“You Have Sugar”—Being Diagnosed with Diabetes in India

If you are currently not fully-diagnosed or are pre-diabetic and look like you have all the symptoms of Type 1 diabetes and someone comes with herbal medication or some homemade concoction that they s...MORE

The Incredible and Courageous René

In Mexico, if you want to live you better go to the hospital by your own means. We have no car though. My mother tried to carry René as best she could to the Green Cross, (an aid station 20 - 30 minu...MORE

I knew she was my daughter

Two and a half months after my diagnosis, I got a message from a friend back in Uganda, who told me about a little girl that was just diagnosed with type 1 and needed a foster family. As soon as I hea...MORE

A Misdiagnosis left my 2-year-old in DKA, Fighting for his Life

One morning, James woke up and per usual, asked for something to drink. I looked at my very articulate 2-year-old, and asked: "Why do you want so much to drink? Are you really thirsty?" And ...MORE

No Shame, No Blame, T1D Diagnosis Game

Instead of shame and blame, a mother, caring for a son living with T1D, knows that advocacy, education, and empathy lead to faster diagnosis.MORE

Non-verbal Type 1 Child Stuns Art World

Immediately after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 2, Ocean’s speech development came to a screeching halt. Despite not being able to fully communicate his feelings verbally, Ocean...MORE

Ariana, My Brave Princess

As a mother, I felt something was just not right but I truly never thought it was something this wrong. I started reading, and it all indicated “diabetes,” something inconceivable in my mind.MORE

Agustín and the Uninvited Guest

Uruguay - On April 27, 2015, we received an uninvited guest who has now become a friend and lives with us at home.MORE

Misdiagnosis Leads to Twin’s Tragic Death

Hunter’s shocking diagnosis prompted the medical team to test his brother. Results revealed blood sugar readings at dangerously high levels. Logan was also diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, but Hunter...MORE

Former Facebook Engineer Dies of Undiagnosed Type 1 Diabetes

On September 26, 2017, former software engineer at Facebook, Michael Cohen, died suddenly at the age of 25 from undiagnosed Type 1 diabetes. MORE

DKA at 30,000 Feet

PK shares the harrowing story of her daughter's experience going into DKA while on a plane. Thankfully, the two were surrounded by professionals.MORE

My Father’s Disease

Sam talks about his father's life with diabetes and how his eventual diagnosis brought the two closer together than ever before.MORE

Seeing the Signs + Learning to Thrive with T1D

Eoin Costelloe (Insuleoin) talks about his type 1 diagnosis and how he learned to thrive in his new life as a T1D.MORE

My Son Was Diagnosed With T1D During The Last Pandemic

There is never a good time to be diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, but especially not if the country is in the middle of a flu pandemic.MORE

Diabetes Crashed My Wedding + Stole My Ring

Diabetes was an uninvited guest to our wedding. It crashed our honeymoon and then it stole my wedding ring.MORE

One of the Lucky Ones

Mila reflects on her son Jaime's type 1 diabetes diagnosis, and how upon learning about the staggering rates of misdiagnosis, she became passionate about the #SeeTheSigns campaignMORE

Trusting Intuition to Save Diego’s Life

Marlene shares the story of her son Diego's journey to a type 1 diagnosis and pleads for others to share the signs of diabetes.MORE

How can I help?

Donate to Beyond Type 1 and help fund our DKA Awareness Campaign across the United States.

You can also help spread awareness about the warning signs of type 1 diabetes by downloading and sharing these materials. Knowing the symptoms of type 1 diabetes (T1D) can prevent late diagnosis and DKA or even death.

DKA in management


What is Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA)?

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a complication from diabetes that can be serious and life-threatening. DKA is often a common factor when first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.MORE

Ketones — The 6 Must-Knows

Ketones are chemicals that build up when your body starts to burn fat for energy. The most common cause of ketones in diabetics is insulin deficiency.MORE

Hyperglycemia and How to Treat It

Hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, occurs when glucose is trapped in the bloodstream due to lack of insulin.MORE


The #TBT No One Wants to See

That’s the thing about this disease: it’s unpredictable. No matter how many devices we use to manage/track/dose…there will always be that unknown. MORE

The Stomach Flu Away-from-Home—Prepare Your College T1D

The texts from my son had come at 1:58 a.m. “Just threw up.” “I have a stomach virus.” Instantly, I was awake and on hyper D-mom overdrive. Attempts to reach my college freshman son went unans...MORE

High Blood Sugars & DKA—Spells Danger

As I trudge through the valley known as T1D one thing has become alarmingly clear – DKA is very dangerous. A high blood sugar mixed with a high A1C and ketones and you have created a very dangerous ...MORE

Losing Will Hauver

His very good A1Cs, his maturity and independence with diabetes management, his success in college, all of this lulled us into complacency. Hindsight while grieving is a painful and horrible exercise....MORE

My Brother Died from DKA

Knowing there are many misconceptions about T1D, a woman set out to improve public education after her brother died from a DKA complication.MORE

WRITTEN BY BT1 Editorial Team, POSTED 02/13/17, UPDATED 07/20/23

This piece was authored collaboratively by the Beyond Type 1 Editorial Team.