How Long To Recover After DKA (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 1 to 3 days

DKA stands for Diabetic Ketoacidosis. It is a medical condition where the patient experiences extremely high blood sugar levels for a prolonged period of time. It is also commonly known as hyperglycemia. Essentially, when DKA occurs, the patient’s body experiences an excess buildup of acids. DKA happens most commonly to patients who are suffering from type 1 diabetes.

When DKA is left untreated, the patient can slip into a diabetic coma. However, DKA takes several hours to become serious and life-threatening. There are ways of preventing and managing the condition. Skipping insulin shots can be one of the main reasons for the development of DKA.

How Long To Recover After DKA?

The time taken to recover from a DKA episode will be hinged on the specific medical history, body chemistry, and overall health of the individual patient in question. If the patient is otherwise healthy and does not have any of the other related risk factors, he or she will recover from the episode much faster than someone who is suffering from other existing co-morbidities.

When a patient experiences a DKA attack, they must be rushed to a hospital immediately for the right care and assistance. If the patient is taken to a hospital timely, he or she will be able to recover within a short span of 1 to 3 days.

However, DKA is also known to cause certain complications in patients. This includes the possibility of suffering from a stroke or a heart attack immediately after the DKA episode. One can also slip into a diabetic coma and experience cerebral edema. In such situations, doctors will keep the patient in the hospital for a longer time and recovery will be a prolonged process for the patient.

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If the patient has already been diagnosed with a certain type of diabetes, the chances of the individual developing DKA are higher. However, someone with undiagnosed type 1 diabetes can also suffer from DKA. In these situations, since a diabetes diagnosis has not yet been pronounced, the episode may not be treated as DKA. Then, it will take longer to test for the condition and finally treat it. In such cases, recovery will be longer than normal.

In Summary:

Circumstances of the DKA EpisodeRecovery Time
Immediate Hospitalization1 to 3 days
Complications From The DKA EpisodeRecovery depends on the specific complication
Undiagnosed Diabetes and DKALonger than 3 days

Why Does It Take So Long To Recover After DKA?

Recovering from DKA is quite streamlined if immediate medical attention is sought because in the hospital all medical resources needed to counter the symptoms of the condition are easily available. Moreover, it is possible to constantly monitor the DKA patient so as to avoid the development of any adverse complications due to the episode.

The intravenous medications used to reduce the blood sugar levels are administered to the patient in the hospital. The medicine administered helps stop the buildup of ketones or acids in the blood. This in turn prevents the brain from swelling and going into a shock. Thus, by remaining on bed rest, the patient swiftly recovers and can go back to his or her normal life in merely 3 days.

However, if the patient in question experiences one of the many complications listed above due to DKA, the treatment of the individual will inevitably take longer. The specific time frame of recovery will depend on the complication faced by the patient. For instance, clearing the fluid buildup in the lungs or treating a stroke due to DKA takes time. Recovering from these major ailments will also be a long hill process.

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It is important to cognize that DKA is not a one-time-dosage ailment that can be cured by the intake of certain medications. However, it can definitely be prevented. Early detection through testing is an important part of this process. Similarly, it is important to take the requisite insulin shots. Missing these shots is one of the prime reasons for DKA in diabetic patients.

Conclusion

Research suggests that DKA is one of the prime causes of mortality among children, adolescents, and young adults. However, it is a condition that can be easily managed and its worst consequences can be bypassed quite simply. The lack of awareness about managing DKA is responsible for the high mortality rate related to the condition.

After suffering from a hyperglycemic episode, a person can usually recover within 1 to 3 days. The key to a streamlined recovery is getting medical attention immediately as the symptoms of DKA set in. if the episode was mild, a minor hospital stay will be enough for the recovery. If there are complications due to the attack, recovery can take longer.

References

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1036731409000836
  2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0885066612467149
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