Alcoholic Ketoacidosis: What to Know About This Medical Emergency

Insulin release from the pancreatic beta cells might be abnormally sensitive to catecholamine inhibition. The pivotal variable appears to be a relative deficiency of insulin. Individuals with higher insulin levels are more likely to present with the syndrome of alcohol-induced hypoglycemia without ketoacidosis. The patients need fluid resuscitation, close monitoring of electrolytes, and treatment to prevent alcohol withdrawal. They also need to have a complete history and physical for a complete differential diagnosis.

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  • The initial glucose levels are more likely to be in the normal range.
  • The specific gravity of the urine can be in the normal range if the patient has been drinking recently enough for the effect of antidiuretic hormone inhibition to be still present.
  • A 49-year-old male with a history of alcohol abuse presents to the ED with complaints of generalized abdominal pain and vomiting for the last 36 hours.
  • For patient education information, see the Mental Health and Behavior Center, as well as Alcoholism and Alcohol Intoxication.

You can prevent alcoholic ketoacidosis from occurring by limiting or stopping your alcohol use. If you have an alcohol use disorder, seeking an inpatient or partial hospitalization program for addiction can help you stop drinking. Alcohol ketoacidosis is most common among people who have alcohol use disorders, and drink a lot of alcohol nearly every day or chronically. Alcohol use disorder or alcoholism is a type of addiction in which the person feels a compulsive and persistent urge to drink alcohol despite the repercussions.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

However, any long-term risks – such as its reoccurrence – depends on the person’s drinking habits. When your fat cells break down, they release ketones, which are a type of acid that provides your cells with some energy. The problem is that high levels of ketones can cause the blood to become too acidic, which can be life-threatening if it’s left untreated. Nitrogen and creatinine, glucose, ketones, amylase, lipase, and plasma osmolality should be measured. Patients who appear significantly ill and those with positive ketones should have arterial blood gas and serum lactate measurement.

  • Altered mental status, fever, hypothermia, or other abnormal findings were uncommon and reflected other underlying processes.
  • Glucose levels are usually mildly elevated but are not generally above 250mg/dl.
  • He denies a history of diabetes mellitus, ingestion of any toxic alcohols, or recent illness.
  • Beta-Hydroxybutyrate – The serum beta-hydroxybutyrate (B-OH) level will be significantly elevated.

Rarely, AKA occurs after a binge in persons who are not chronic drinkers. Chronic drinking can have more repercussions on your health than just alcoholic ketoacidosis. If you or someone you know struggles with alcoholism, our Chicago drug rehab is here to help.

Possible Complications

Prolonged used of alcohol can result in cirrhosis, or permanent scarring of the liver. Cirrhosis of the liver can cause exhaustion, leg swelling, and nausea. Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

It’s vital to understand what this condition is, how it occurs and how it’s treated. Understanding alcoholic ketoacidosis can help you recognize and prevent it.

Treatment / Management

Learn the effects of drinking on your body and mental well-being. This goal can usually alcoholic ketoacidosis be achieved through the administration of dextrose and saline solutions 5.

What is diabetic ketoacidosis?

If you think you may have low blood sugar, check it even if you don’t have symptoms. When too many ketones are produced too fast, they can build up in your body and cause diabetic ketoacidosis, or DKA. DKA is very serious and can cause a coma or even death. Common symptoms of DKA include: Fast, deep breathing.Dry skin and mouth.Flushed face.Frequent urination or thirst that lasts for a day or more.Fruity-smelling breath.Headache.Muscle stiffness or aches.Nausea and vomiting.Stomach pain. If you think you may have DKA, test your urine for ketones. Follow the test kit directions, checking the color of the test strip against the color chart in the kit to see your ketone level. If your ketones are high, call your health care provider right away. DKA requires treatment in a hospital. DKA happens most in people with type 1 diabetes and is sometimes the first sign of type 1 in people who haven’t yet been diagnosed. People with type 2 diabetes can also develop DKA, but it’s less common.

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