Eradicate Diabetes

Sweet Breath Symptom: Diabetic Ketoacidosis

Sweet Breath Symptom: Diabetic Ketoacidosis

If someone tells you your breath is sweet, don’t giggle and be happy about it – because more often than not, they don’t mean it in a nice way. They probably mean you have a bad breath.

The most common reason of having a bad breath is due to poor oral hygiene. If so, then proper brushing of teeth after meals, flossing, and using oral mouthwash will do the trick. However, there are instances when bad breath is beyond hygiene. It could be caused by an underlying medical condition that could be fatal if left un-diagnosed.

Knowing the specific smell of one’s breath odor might be key in pinpointing what could the possible reason or abnormality is.  A foul-smelling phlegm-like odor might be due to bronchitis, while sour-smelling breath would probably indicate chronic gastritis or inflammation of the stomach. A breath that smells like urine likely indicates acute kidney failure and fruity smelling breath usually indicates diabetic ketoacidosis which is fatal and needs immediate medical assistance.

What is Diabetic Ketoacidosis?

It is a serious medical condition that is characterized by the increased presence of ketones and ketone bodies in the blood. These are by products of fat metabolism which usually happens when the body is in starvation stage.

Normally the body utilizes glucose from the food we eat as the source of energy used for the cell metabolism giving us energy. However, for people with diabetes, this is not usually the case because insulin, the one responsible for transporting glucose from the bloodstream into the cells, may be insufficient or non functional. The inability of the body to absorb and utilize dietary glucose will have two general effects. First, it will severely increase the blood glucose levels causing a multitude of diabetes complications like kidney and heart problems, blindness, amputations, and other drastic disorders due to nerve damages. And Two, since the cells will have less glucose to use, it triggers “panic and starvation mode” where it makes use of stored fats as alternative source of energy. This would lead to the increase of ketone bodies in the bloodstream bringing about increased acidity of the blood.

Triggers of Ketoacidosis

  • severe depletion of insulin
  • poor compliance of insulin therapy for type 1 and type 2 diabetics
  • other diseases like myocardial infarction (MI) and stroke
  • drugs and some medications like clozapine and olanzopine


He most common distinguishing characteristic of ketoacidosis is the sweet smelling and fruity breath odor. Other symptoms include loss of appetite, vomiting and episodes of nausea, and increase in urine output. In severe and untreated cases, patients may decrease their level of consciousness and may opt to always sleep feeling tired and weak, severe ketoacidosis can also lead to comatose.

When To Go to the Hospital

If one or several of these conditions are experienced, you should call for help and go to the hospital as soon as possible:

  • Decreased consciousness
  • Heavy and difficulty of breathing
  • Fruity breath
  • Mental stupor
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting


The primary goal for treatment is the reduction of blood glucose levels keeping it as close to normal as possible. This will not only cure the effects of ketoacidosis but other diabetic complications as well. This can be attained by introducing more insulin to the body so that there will be enough to transport glucose for cell use. Replacement of fluids lost due to vomiting and excessive urination is also of primary importance to prevent dehydration. For ketoacidosis that’s caused by infections, treatment of the underlying cause will also benefit the condition of diabetic ketoacidosis.