Treating diabetic ketoacidosis 

Diabetic ketoacidosis is usually treated in hospital.

Depending on how advanced your symptoms are, you may be admitted to a standard ward, a high dependency ward or an intensive care unit (ICU).

Diabetic ketoacidosis is treated using a combination of:

  • fluids pumped directly into a vein to rehydrate your body 
  • insulin (usually pumped into a vein) 
  • replacement of minerals, such as potassium, which may have been lost because you're dehydrated and because of insulin treatment

You'll be closely monitored using blood and urine tests to check how well you're responding to treatment and determine when it's safe for you to go home.

If you develop any complications of diabetic ketoacidosis, you'll need additional treatment for this.

Going home

As long as there are no complications, you should be able to leave hospital when you are well enough to eat and drink normally and tests show no, or few, ketones left in your body. 

In most cases, this will take less than 24 hours, although some people may need to stay in hospital for longer.

Before or shortly after being discharged from hospital, your diabetes nurse will discuss why you developed diabetic ketoacidosis, so a plan can be put in place to prevent future episodes.

For example, if diabetic ketoacidosis was caused by an illness, you'll need a "sick day plan" so you can adjust your insulin dosage accordingly.

If diabetic ketoacidosis occurred as a result of missing an insulin treatment, you'll need to discuss the reasons for this and whether there's anything that can be done to make your treatment plan easier to follow.

Read more about preventing diabetic ketoacidosis.

Page last reviewed: 23/04/2015

Next review due: 23/04/2017