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Date of last update: 10/17/2017.

Forum Name: Endocrinology Topics

Question: Diabetic Ketoacidosis?

 catlover - Tue May 27, 2003 1:52 am


I would really appreciate some help. My mom is a Type 1 diabetic - very brittle - terminally ill with throat cancer. She is considering stopping her insulin and all oral intake.

I have searched all over the net and have read what ketoacidosis is and how to treat it but what I want to know is what to expect if she decides to stop insulin and all oral intake.

How long after stopping insulin and all oral intake until she slips into a coma? How long might she be in a coma before passing away? Will she suffer at all? Any pain?

I realize this is an unusual question. I am her primary caregiver and I want to know what to expect. This is my mom's choice but I need to be prepared. We see her Dr. in a few days - I know he'll have the answers - but I was hoping for some information so that I could have some time to prepare myself for what I'm sure is to come.

Thank so much.
 Dr. Tamer Fouad - Tue May 27, 2003 7:31 am

User avatar Dear Catlover,

I am an medical oncologist so i you cannot say that i don't know what your mother is going through. I know how much my patients suffer from cancer. However, I do not condone euthenasia (merciful killing), especially that there are methods of dealing with every complication a cancer patient goes through. Whethere that be pain, dyspnea, depression. We can deal with it to some extent or another. Again its really not her right at all to take her life. Since when do we approve of people comitting suicide. We don't! Most of these suiciders are suffering too though it may not be cancer.

Now back to your question: If this is how she intends to die then its not the smoothest way. Coma due to ketoacidosis is a metabolic type of coma in contrast to a neurological type of coma (associated with a disease of the nervous system). Metabolic coma progresses slowly from consciousness to precoma to coma. It may take upto a week of suffering in the form of aggitation, delerium, confusion, nausea, vomiting, rapid breathing and many other symptoms.

Please take the time to visit this site:


Try to help her change her mind. If you need any help with her case please use the cancer discussion forums and a specialist will guide you through her case.

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