Alcoholic Ketoacidosis

General or Other | General Practice | Alcoholic Ketoacidosis (Disease)


Alcoholic ketoacidosis is the buildup of ketones in the blood. When the body breaks down fat for energy a type of acid named ketones is formed. The condition is an acute form of metabolic acidosis.

Symptoms include: abdominal pain, agitation, changed level of alertness, which may lead to coma, confusion, fatigue, slow, sluggish, lethargic movement, irregular deep, rapid breathing (Kussmauls sign), loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, symptoms of dehydration, such as dizziness, light-headedness, and thirst.

Causes and Risk factors

Alcoholic ketoacidosis is caused by excessive alcohol use. It is most often seen in a malnourished person who drinks large amounts of alcohol every day.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Signs and tests that can be taken are: arterial blood gases to measure the acid/base balance and oxygen level in blood, blood alcohol level, blood chemistries, such as CHEM-20, toxicology (poison) screening and urine ketones. Alcoholic ketoacidosis can be a life-threatening disorder. Complications can include: gastrointestinal bleeding, pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) and pneumonia.

Treatment of AKA is directed toward reversing the 3 major pathophysiologic causes of the syndrome, which are: extracellular fluid volume depletion, glycogen depletion, an elevated ratio of the reduced form of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) to nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+). This goal can usually be achieved through the administration of dextrose and saline solutions....