Marijuana can Lead You to DKA- a Serious Diabetic Complication

Marijuana can Lead You to DKA- a Serious Diabetic Complication

Marijuana can cause serious life-threatening complications. According to a recent study type-1, diabetics can be at a greater risk of developing one of the life-threatening complications if they are frequently in use of marijuana.

The health condition known as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is developed when a persons’ body has insufficient insulin to break down the sugars in the body. So to fulfill the requirement of energy the body starts burning fats instead of sugar. The by-products of this process are ketones which is a harmful compound and can lead one to coma or death.

“About 30 percent of our patients are using some form of marijuana, and they should be careful when using. They should be aware of the DKA risk, and recognize the symptoms- nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and confusion,”says the study author, Dr. Halis Akturk.

Akturk is an assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes in Aurora, Colo. Colorado is usually a well-known state of the USA due to its law which legally allows the use of marijuana.

Type 1 diabetes is categorized as an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks own insulin cells of the pancreas. Insulin is a hormone produced by the beta cells of the pancreas which makes the body use carbohydrates in the food for energy.

People suffering from this health condition are not able to make sufficient insulin for themselves. Type1 diabetics use insulin shots or an insulin pump to fulfill their requirement of insulin. However, no one knows the correct daily dose for insulin.

Excessive use of insulin can cause very serious low blood sugar level that can cause people chills, irritation and confusion if not treated quickly. This can even cause a person to die if immediate healthcare is not provided.

While on the other hand, too little insulin in the body can also cause serious health issues. For so many years, high blood sugar due to diabetes is linked to serious complications like amputations, heart and kidney disease, and vision problems. As per the American Diabetes Association, too little sugar in the body can also lead a person to one of the serious complication, DKA which can be triggered within only a few hours.

In one of the recent studies, the researchers studied patients of type 1 diabetes at Colorado University to know the marijuana effect on them. 134 out of 450 patients were in frequent use of marijuana. Patients around the age of 39 were surveyed while researchers pointed out that people mainly with an average age of 31 were more into marijuana.

Mostly the Cannabis users were uneducated and had lower incomes. As per the researchers the pot users use it in different ways like smoking, vaping or in edible products. The people who avoided the use of marijuana had a better sugar level. People who use marijuana slightly had an increased value in the HbA1C test.

The study was only able to link the relationship between the two and failed to find a cause-and-effect relationship.

Dr. Joel Zonszein, director of the clinical diabetes program at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City said, “I was not surprised that the use of cannabis is associated with DKA. Individuals with type 1 diabetes need to be engaged with their disease and manage insulin dosing constantly, even those on the pump with closed loop systems.”


Hilary Jensen

Hilary is a Food Science and Nutrition graduate with specialization in diet planning and weight loss. She enjoys reading and writing on Food, Nutrition, Diet, Weight Loss, and General Health.

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