Ketosis is a condition in which the body produces an abnormally high amount of “ketone bodies,” which are themselves the byproducts of the fats that have been broken down within the body. In a healthy individual, the body uses carbohydrates for fuel, but in certain conditions or certain diets, the absence of carbohydrates causes the body to break down fat; the result is a build-up of acetone within the body. Ketosis may be caused by various factors, but is often associated with the disease known as Diabetes Mellitus. Other factors that may result in ketosis include: excessive dieting and starvation, or the ingestion of certain substances such as acetylcysteine, aspirin, alcohol, as well as nicotinic and valproic acids.
Diagnosing ketosis is traditionally done in conjunction with the diagnosing of other symptoms, for instance, fatigue and electrolyte imbalances may be taken into consideration. And as was mentioned, ketosis may be diagnosed as a condition secondary to a teratogenic agent such as aspirin or alcohol, if this is the case, the cessation of the ingestion of these substances may be in itself enough to “cure” the condition. However, it is important to remember that ketosis can be a harbinger of an illness such as diabetes or even abdominal cancer. This is why a proper diagnoses is imperative.
In the event ketosis is prolonged, and certainly in the case of Type 1 Diabetes, the blood may become excessively acidic and the ketosis evolves into a condition known as “ketoacidosis,” which may result in a coma or even death. Ketoacidosis is a life threatening condition that usually presents with the symptoms of nausea, abdominal pain and rapid breathing.
There are several treatments for ketosis, but as it is generally the symptom of a larger problem, it is crucial that it be correctly diagnosed. Once the underlying cause has been identified, ketosis may be treated with something as simple as foods high in protein and water, or with stronger methods such as antibiotics, insulin or intravenous fluids.