All About Ketones and DKA


Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a life-threatening but often preventable complication of diabetes that occurs when the body is not receiving enough insulin to break down glucose, forcing the body to break down fat as fuel. This releases ketones into the bloodstream, which can cause the blood to become acidic, resulting eventually in system failure and even death. Understanding ketones and DKA is a necessity for everyone living with type 1 diabetes. Recognizing, testing for and effectively treating ketones and DKA are basic survival skills, but are often left out of the health education conversations that focus on day-to-day blood sugar management.

A recent poll of Beyond Type 1 community members found that over half had experienced DKA while living with type 1 diabetes, and more than a third have no way of checking for ketones at home. Here we have consolidated some helpful resources and personal stories of DKA from some of our community members with a goal to provide vital information and help mitigate risks of DKA.

DKA Resources

Testing For and Managing Ketones

A fundamental component of spreading DKA prevention is to address ketones. Here you'll find the commonly recommended steps for ketone checking and handling.MORE

Ketone Meters: What to Look For

You might be surprised to hear that ketones are a necessary part of your body’s metabolic processes – after all, any mention of “ketones” is usually accompanied by feelings of dread among PWDs...MORE

STICH Protocol for DKA Management

With SGLT inhibitors increasingly being used off-label to treat Type 1 diabetes, it is vital that patients on these drugs know when and how to treat for ketones.MORE

Ketones vs Ketosis vs DKA

What are the differences between ketones, ketosis, and DKA? These terms are commonly used in the type 1 community but what do they mean? Here is a breakdown of their definitions and differences.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

DKA Stories

Flaws in Technology: A Case of DKA

Ilse Michelle Mora Rodríguez is a doctor who has lived with Type 1 for nearly her entire life. Her brush with DKA came when she least expected it.MORE

‘This Doesn’t Happen To Me’ — A New DKA Perspective

Neil Greathouse shares his DKA experience and how the incident truly humbled him.MORE

A Deadly Lack of Information

Jillian Rippolone shares the story of one of her DKA experiences. She laments not having more information and her inability to recognize symptoms.MORE

Lessons Learned: Michelle’s Unusual DKA Experience

Michelle Lord shares her DKA experience + the importance of testing for ketones.MORE

Note: Updated resources on how to recognize and treat DKA while managing type 1 diabetes were made possible with a grant from Lexicon Pharmaceuticals, an active partner of Beyond Type 1 at the time of publication.

WRITTEN BY BT1 Editorial Team, POSTED 06/18/19, UPDATED 01/01/23

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