Alcoholic Ketoacidosis: Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis

Without insulin injections, they’re likely to end up in a state of ketoacidosis. Some believe it is a condition that happens gradually over time if you are a chronic drinker. However, you can develop alcoholic ketoacidosis after just one binge-drinking episode. Alcoholic ketoacidosis is a condition that can happen when you’ve had a lot of alcohol and haven’t had much to eat or have been vomiting. When this happens, it can cause ketones, which are acids, to build up in your blood.

What are the symptoms of alcoholic ketoacidosis?

  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Agitation, confusion.
  • Changed level of alertness, which may lead to coma.
  • Fatigue, slow movements.
  • Deep, labored, rapid breathing.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Symptoms of dehydration, such as dizziness, lightheadedness, and thirst.

Lipid metabolism is subsequently boosted by the increasing NADH/NAD+ ratio. Alcoholic ketoacidosis seems to occur mostly in people who are heavy drinkers, who then become dehydrated and malnourished. This can occur due to dehydration from drinking, low glucose levels from not eating and throwing up after binge drinking and a buildup of ketones in the body from alcoholic ketoacidosis symptoms frequent drinking. If you chronically abuse alcohol, you probably don’t get as much nutrition as your body needs. Going on a drinking binge when your body is in a malnourished state may cause abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting. Infection or other illnesses such as pancreatitis can also trigger alcoholic ketoacidosis in people with alcohol use disorder.

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Metabolic Panel – The fundamental metabolic panel will probably be off. Potassium levels can range from normal to low because dehydration and a reduction in oral intake typically cause the serum potassium level to drop. With the presence of metabolic acidosis, bicarbonate or HCO3 levels would likely fall. If the patient is dehydrated, the blood urea nitrogen (BUN) ratio to creatinine may increase.

It also depends on how long it takes to get your body regulated and out of danger. If you have any additional complications during treatment, this will also affect the length of your hospital stay. If your blood glucose level is elevated, your doctor may also perform a hemoglobin A1C (HgA1C) test.

Additional Reading

Other high anion gap metabolic acidosis causes, such as diabetic ketoacidosis, which may also manifest similarly. People with alcoholic ketoacidosis are usually admitted to the hospital, often to the intensive care unit (ICU). Additional medicines may be given to prevent alcohol withdrawal. The patients need to be treated with fluid and volume resuscitation. The patient will need intravenous therapy (IV) normal saline volume replacement. If the initial blood glucose level is normal or low, five%dextrose should be added to the IV fluids.

alcoholic ketoacidosis symptoms

Therefore, only a mild acidosis is observed in starvation ketosis. Prevention of alcoholic ketoacidosis involves the treatment of chronic alcohol abuse. It enters the bloodstream and affects every part of the body, making the drinker vulnerable to serious health consequences. Chronic alcohol abuse exposes the central nervous, digestive, circulatory, immune, skeletal, and muscle systems to severe and long-lasting damage.

Risk factors

If the patient is capable, the patient will mount a respiratory alkalosis. Given that severe vomiting can result in metabolic alkalosis, the existence of a mixed condition may also be present. Alcoholic ketoacidosis is the buildup of ketones in the blood. The long-term outlook for recovery following alcoholic ketoacidosis depends on your overall health and average alcohol intake. For instance, if you’re also suffering from liver disease, the prognosis won’t be as positive. Many people end up in urgent care or the emergency room because of the early symptoms of alcoholic ketoacidosis, which include abdominal pain.