OpenStax Anatomy and Physiology
Diabetic acidosis, or ketoacidosis, occurs most frequently in people with poorly controlled diabetes mellitus. When certain tissues in the body cannot get adequate amounts of glucose, they depend on the breakdown of fatty acids for energy. When acetyl groups break off the fatty acid chains, the acetyl groups then non-enzymatically combine to form ketone bodies, acetoacetic acid, beta-hydroxybutyric acid, and acetone, all of which increase the acidity of the blood. In this condition, the brain isn’t supplied with enough of its fuel—glucose—to produce all of the ATP it requires to function.
Ketoacidosis can be severe and, if not detected and treated properly, can lead to diabetic coma, which can be fatal. A common early symptom of ketoacidosis is deep, rapid breathing as the body attempts to drive off CO2 and compensate for the acidosis. Another common symptom is fruity-smelling breath, due to the exhalation of acetone. Other symptoms include dry skin and mouth, a flushed face, nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain. Treatment for diabetic coma is ingestion or injection of sugar; its prevention is the proper daily administration of insulin.
A person who is diabetic and uses insulin can initiate ketoacidosis if a dose of insulin is missed. Among people with type 2 diabetes, those of Hispanic and African-American descent are more likely to go into ketoacidosis than those of other ethnic backgrounds, although the reason for this is unknown.
Betts, J. G., Young, K. A., Wise, J. A., Johnson, E., Poe, B., Kruse, D. H., … DeSaix, P. (n.d.). Anatomy and Physiology. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at: https://openstax.org/details/books/anatomy-and-physiology