- Respiratory failure complicating the course of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a source of increased morbidity and mortality. Detection of respiratory failure in DKA requires focused clinical monitoring, careful interpretation of arterial blood gases, and investigation for conditions that can affect adversely the respiration. Conditions that compromise respiratory function caused by DKA can be detected at presentation but are usually more prevalent during treatment. These conditions include deficits of potassium, magnesium and phosphate and hydrostatic or non-hydrostatic pulmonary edema. Conditions not caused by DKA that can worsen respiratory function under the added stress of DKA include infections of the respiratory system, pre-existing respiratory or neuromuscular disease and miscellaneous other conditions. Prompt recognition and management of the conditions that can lead to respiratory failure in DKA may prevent respiratory failure and improve mortality from DKA.