Medication Guide App

Diabetic Ketoacidosis In Children


Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a life-threatening condition that happens when diabetes is not controlled. Your child's blood sugar levels become dangerously high because his body does not have enough insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps your child's body take sugar out of his blood and use it for energy. The lack of insulin forces his body to use fat instead of sugar for energy. As fats are broken down, they leave chemicals called ketones that build up in the blood. Ketones are dangerous at high levels.



  • Insulin: Insulin decreases the amount of sugar in your child's blood. It helps his body move the sugar into his cells, where it is needed for energy.

  • Give your child's medicine as directed. Call your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your child's diabetes specialist or healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Prevent diabetic ketoacidosis:

The best way to prevent DKA is to help your child control his diabetes. Ask your child's healthcare provider for more information on how to manage your child's diabetes. The following may help decrease your child's risk for DKA:

  • Check your child's blood sugar levels: Follow your child's healthcare provider's instructions about when and how often to check your child's blood sugar level during the day. You may need to check at least 3 times each day. If his blood sugar level is too high, give him insulin as directed by his healthcare provider. He can show you how to use a blood glucose monitor to check your child's levels.

  • Check for ketones: Follow instructions about when you should check your child's blood or urine for ketones. Your child's healthcare provider may give you a machine to check your child's blood ketones. Urine ketones can be checked with sticks you dip in your child's urine. Do not allow your child to exercise if he has ketones in his urine or blood.

  • Manage sick days: When your child is sick, he may not eat as much as he normally does. You may need to change the amount of insulin he gets. You will need to check your child's blood sugar levels more often. You may also need to check for ketones. Make a plan with your child's healthcare provider about how to manage your child's diabetes when he is sick.

  • Know how to treat DKA: If your child has signs of DKA, give him more liquids that do not contain sugar. Give your child insulin as directed by his healthcare provider.

  • Call your child's diabetes team as often as needed: Ask your child's healthcare provider about a diabetes team. Call the team if your child's blood sugar is high, or he has ketones in his blood or urine. The team is available for any questions or concerns you have about your child's diabetes.

Talk to officials at your child's school:

Make sure your child's teachers know he has diabetes. Give written instructions about what to do if your child has symptoms of high or low blood sugar levels at school.

Contact your child's diabetes specialist or healthcare provider if:

  • Your child's blood sugar level is lower or higher than you were told it should be.

  • Your child has a fever or chills.

  • Your child has ketones in his blood or urine.

  • Your child is more thirsty than usual.

  • Your child is urinating more often than he usually does.

  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • Your child has fruity, sweet breath.

  • Your child has stomach pain or is vomiting.

  • Your child is more drowsy or sleepy than usual.

  • Your child is breathing fast, or is short of breath.

  • Your child becomes weak and confused.

  • Your child has a seizure, or becomes unconscious.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Diabetic Ketoacidosis In Children (Aftercare Instructions)