How Does Ketosis Differ from Ketoacidosis and Are They Safe?

Even though ketosis and ketoacidosis sound almost the same, they have quite a big difference. A lot of people have the wrong kind of information about the two and while ketoacidosis is toxic to the body, ketosis is not.

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What is Ketoacidosis?

It is also known as Diabetes Ketoacidosis (DKA). Ketoacidosis is a deadly metabolic state where your body is unable to produce insulin. It can also be caused by excess production of glucose that the body is unable to metabolize. 

The body is forced to produce ketones as its energy source. With the absence of insulin to control ketone production, it translates to excess production, releasing them into the blood streams and as a result, the blood becomes acidic. Ketoacidosis can happen in a span of 24hrs and is common to diabetes type I patients.

What is Ketosis?

Ketosis is a metabolic state linked to the ketogenic diet, where you limit your carb intake by eating low carb foods and force your body to turn fats into ketones for energy. Even when the ketones are produced quantitatively, they do not cause acidity because their production is kept in control by insulin. Ketosis is confused for ketoacidosis although it is safe and not as dangerous as ketoacidosis.

What are the causes?

Ketosis is natural and occurs when someone voluntarily adapts a ketogenic diet. Your body goes into starvation forcing it to look for alternative energy sources.

There are a few ways to get into ketosis. One of the easiest ways besides eating keto foods is to take supplements. This page has a list of supplements you can try to boost your ketone levels.

Ketoacidosis on the other hand is mainly caused by mismanagement of diabetes type I and in rare cases type II. It mainly occurs if a patient does not use the right amount of insulin. Other causes include; alcoholism, medication that tamper with insulin levels, overactive thyroid, starvation, and drug abuse etc. 

Symptoms for ketoacidosis are; vomiting, frequent urination, vomiting, extreme thirst, nausea, fruity-smelling breath, tiredness, and shortness of breath.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Ketoacidosis

Having ketone urine test strips or regularly visiting your doctor is vital to monitor your ketone levels especially if you have diabetes. If you experience any of the symptoms or if the test strips show any signs of ketones, drink lots of water to flush them out. Also, take insulin to lower the sugar levels and if the symptoms worsen, see a doctor immediately.

Hospital treatment will involve insulin therapy to keep your blood sugar levels in check, and for maintenance of the heart, cells and nerves, you will undergo electrolyte replacement. Due to excessive urination and vomiting, the body is also rehydrated to replace the lost fluids.

How to Prevent Diabetes Ketoacidosis

Even though ketoacidosis is common in diabetes type I and in rare cases type II patients, it can be prevented. Diabetics can do the following to ward it off;
- Keep watch on your ketone levels as well as blood sugar levels.
- Take all insulin doses and other diabetes medication as directed by your doctor without skipping doses.
- Take regular visits to your doctor’s office.
- Frequently drink water to avoid dehydration.
- Be physically active and always check your blood sugar levels beforehand because working out with high sugar levels could set off diabetic ketoacidosis.
- If your blood sugar levels rise above the norm, visit the emergency room.

Is There a Possibility of Developing Ketoacidosis From Ketosis?

With other risk factors involved, there have been rare cases of people suffering from diabetic ketoacidosis due to nutritional ketosis. Few ketoacidosis instances of breastfeeding mothers on a low-carb diet have been reported.

As pointed out before, there were other risk factors involved because a low-carb diet has been used to treat diabetes type I patients. There might be some medical adjustments for diabetics who choose to go on a ketogenic diet so, it is important to consult your doctor before going on such a diet. Ketosis will not lead to ketoacidosis unless you are low on insulin or breastfeeding.

Bottom Line

Ketosis is completely different from ketoacidosis. While ketoacidosis is a harmful and non-beneficial metabolic state, ketosis is safe, healthy and beneficial. You can choose to go on a ketogenic diet to benefit from ketosis. Always keep track of your ketone and blood sugar levels and see a doctor if you experience any symptoms of ketoacidosis because it is fatal.

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