Diabetic Ketoacidosis | Causes & Risk Factors


What causes DKA?

The main cause of DKA is not enough insulin. A lack of insulin means the sugar can't get into your cells, which need sugar for energy. This causes your body's glucose levels to rise. To get energy, the body starts to burn fat. This process causes ketones to build up. Ketones can poison the body. High blood glucose levels can also cause you to urinate often, which leads to a lack of fluids in the body (dehydration).

DKA can be caused by missing an insulin dose, eating poorly or feeling stressed. An infection or other illness (such as pneumonia or a urinary tract infection) can also lead to DKA. If you have signs of infection, such as a fever, cough or sore throat, contact your doctor to make sure you are getting the right treatment. For some people, DKA may be the first sign that they have diabetes.


Diabetic Ketoacidosis by David E. Trachtenbarg, M.D. (American Family Physician May 01, 2005, http://www.aafp.org/afp/20050501/1705.html)

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 02/14
Created: 07/05