Urinary tract infections are common in people with diabetes, but they can happen to anyone who has problems with their kidneys. Infections can occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract and multiply. As diabetes is a major risk factor for kidney disease, people with diabetes who have infections should be aware of the signs of infection and get prompt treatment.
For example, people with diabetes who have a urinary tract infection are more likely to develop a kidney infection (pyelonephritis) that can lead to renal failure or kidney damage.
Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)
Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a rare complication of diabetes that can result from an overproduction of acids from the liver. These acids, called ketones, can build up in the blood and cause dangerous levels of acidosis.
DKA causes high blood sugar levels and can lead to mental confusion and even coma. You should call your doctor right away if you develop any of these symptoms:
- Extreme thirst
- Excessive hunger
- Frequent urination
- Abdominal pain
- Breathing problems
- Abdominal swelling
Treatment for diabetic ketoacidosis
Treatment for DKA depends on how severe the condition is. You may be able to treat mild cases of DKA at home. But in more severe cases, your doctor will need to treat you with a hospital stay.
If your blood sugar level is very high, you may need to treat your ketones with insulin injections.
If you have diabetes and experience kidney damage, you may also need dialysis to treat severe complications like diabetic kidney disease.
If the condition does not respond to treatment, you may need to have a kidney transplant.
When to call your doctor?
You should call your doctor if you have any of the symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis.
You should also call your doctor if you have any of the symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis along with a high blood sugar level, such as:
- High blood sugar that isn’t getting treated
- High blood sugar that is getting treated but not returning to normal
- High blood sugar that is getting worse
What to expect at your appointment?
Your doctor may ask you some questions about your symptoms, such as when they started and how long they’ve been going on.
Your doctor will also ask about your medical history and whether you have any other health problems.
Depending on the type of diabetes you have, your doctor may also order some tests. These may include:
- Blood sugar levels. Your doctor will check your blood sugar level every day.
- Glucose level test. This test measures the amount of glucose in your blood. If your blood glucose level is very high, your doctor may have you take a glucose level test before you eat or drink anything.
- Electrolyte test. This test measures your levels of sodium, potassium, and phosphorus. It’s often used to screen for kidney damage.
- Urine ketones test. This test measures the amount of ketones in your urine.
- Blood test. Your doctor may order blood tests to check your blood glucose levels.
What happens after an appointment?
Your doctor will give you treatment instructions after your appointment.
For mild cases of DKA, your doctor may recommend taking extra insulin to treat your blood sugar level. Your doctor may also advise you to drink extra fluids.
For people with DKA who are very sick, especially those who have kidney damage, they may prescribe a medication called insulin in some cases. This medication will lower your blood sugar level. However, it won’t help your kidney function.
If your blood sugar level is high and you’re having mental confusion, your doctor may prescribe drugs to treat your mental function. These drugs are also known as mood stabilizers.
To treat high blood sugar, your doctor might also prescribe drugs that help to lower glucose levels. These drugs include:
- DPP-4 inhibitors
To treat severe DKA, your doctor may prescribe a treatment called dialysis. Dialysis involves a machine that filters your blood. This treatment allows your blood to be treated properly, so that your kidneys can function properly.
If your blood sugar level is very high and you’re having muscle aches, your doctor may prescribe a medication called corticosteroids. This medication will reduce your blood sugar level.
What are the complications associated with diabetes?
People with diabetes are at higher risk for eye, kidney, and heart problems.
People with type 2 diabetes have an increased risk for:
- Kidney disease. In people with type 2 diabetes, high blood sugar levels can damage kidneys. If you have diabetes, you have an increased risk of developing kidney damage, especially if you also have high cholesterol levels.
- Heart disease. People with diabetes are at a higher risk of heart disease, especially if they have high blood pressure.
- Vision problems. Diabetes can cause blood vessels to weaken and narrow, which can lead to eye problems.
How can I help prevent complications from diabetes?
The first step is to keep your blood sugar levels within a normal range. This can be done through:
- Managing your weight
- Eating a healthy diet
- Exercising regularly
- Getting regular physical activity
If you have type 1 diabetes, your doctor might also recommend taking any of the following steps to help prevent complications:
If you have type 2 diabetes, your doctor might also suggest:
- Taking your blood sugar levels regularly.
- Taking medication to help your blood sugar control.
- Monitoring your blood sugar levels throughout the day.
- Eating a balanced diet to keep your blood sugar level within a normal range.
- Not smoking.
- Not having much to drink.
- Taking care of your feet.
- Staying physically active.
If you think you might have complications from diabetes, make an appointment with your doctor so they can check your blood sugar level.
The bottom line
Diabetic ketoacidosis can be a dangerous complication of diabetes. It can lead to coma, kidney failure, and even death.
If your blood glucose level is high, your doctor will recommend taking extra insulin to treat your condition. This can help to lower your blood sugar level.
However, it won’t help your kidney function. If your blood glucose level is very high and you’re having mental confusion, your doctor may prescribe mood stabilizers or kidney drugs.
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