What is Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA)?
DKA is a serious medical condition that occurs in people with diabetes and can lead to complications, disability, and death. Most often, DKA occurs at diagnosis, and is preventable by early detection and treatment.
Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes:
- Polydypsia (excessive thirst)
- Polyuria (frequent urination)
- Weight Loss
- Lethargy (abnormal lack of energy)
- Kussmaul Breathing (rapid labored breathing)
- Blurred vision
- Nocturnal Enuresis (nighttime bed-wetting)
- Candidiasis (yeast infections)
- Dehydration (sunken in eyes, dry skin, dry mucous membranes)
- Fruity breath
- Flu-like symptoms
Early Detection Can Save Lives
Early treatment leads to better outcomes, which can be accomplished through public education. It is parents and teachers who see children daily that will be able to detect changes in behavioral patterns. A way to increase the public's awareness of the early warning signs of DKA is through the distribution of informative posters. In Parma, Italy after a campaign was implemented to increase awareness of signs and symptoms of Diabetes using posters, the rate of DKA decreased from 78% to 12.5% at diagnosis(1). The purpose of the posters is to display the early warning signs of diabetes, urging people to seek medical treatment before entering a state of DKA(1).
According to the National Institute of Health, 24.15% of people with diabetes are estimated to be undiagnosed, putting them at an increased risk for DKA (2). "In the United States, DKA occurs at onset of diabetes in 25 to 40 percent of cases,"(3). The following posters have been created to educate the general public about the signs and symptoms of diabetes. Please encourage the distribution of these posters in schools, community centers, or anywhere children live and play. According to Brink:"Educating the general public to be aware of the signs and symptoms of diabetes, educating the patient and his or her family to the signs, symptoms and treatment of diabetic ketoacidosis especially early in its inception...will go far in preventing the morbidity and mortality of diabetic ketoacidosis" (4)By raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of diabetes, the complications associated with DKA at diagnosis can be decreased and children and adults diagnosed with type 1 diabetes can have a more positive diagnosis experience.
- Bismuth, E., & Laffel, L. (2007). Can we prevent diabetic ketoacidosis in children? Pediatric Diabetes, 8, 24-33.
- National Institute of Health (2008). National Diabetes Statistics 2007. Retrieved May 1, 2009 from http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/statistics/#allages
- Kaufman, F. (September 2008). International Campaign to Reduce the Incidence of DKA. National Association of School Nurses. 23, 151-152.
- Brink, S.J. (1999). Diabetic ketoacidosis. Acta Paediatrica, 88, 14-24
For More Information
Adam Town, BSN, RN
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