Alcoholic Ketoacidosis – What it is, Symptoms and Treatments of this condition. Furthermore, Alcoholic Ketoacidosis is a metabolic complication of alcohol use and fasting, characterized by hyperketonemia and metabolic acidosis, with a positive anion gap, without significant hyperglycemia. Ketoacidosis occurs when you have ingested something that is metabolized or turned into an acid.
Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to Alcoholic Ketoacidosis as well as malnutrition. Common symptoms of Alcoholic Ketoacidosis include abdominal pain , fatigue , vomiting , and dehydration. Cells need glucose (sugar) and insulin to function properly.
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Glucose comes from the food you eat and insulin is produced by the pancreas. When you drink alcohol , your pancreas may stop producing insulin for a short time. Without insulin , your cells won’t be able to use the glucose you consume for energy. To get the energy you need, your body will start burning fat.
When your body burns fat for energy, by-products known as ketone bodies are produced. If your body is not producing insulin , ketone bodies will start to build up in your bloodstream. This buildup of ketones can produce a potentially life-threatening condition known as ketoacidosis.
Ketoacidosis or metabolic acidosis occurs when you ingest something that is metabolized or turned into an acid. This condition has several causes, including:
- Large doses of aspirin
- Kidney disease
- abnormal metabolism
In addition to general ketoacidosis, there are several specific types. These types include:
- Alcoholic ketoacidosis , caused by excessive alcohol consumption
- Diabetic ketoacidosis, which develops mostly in people with type 1 diabetes
- Hunger ketoacidosis, which occurs more often in pregnant women, in the third trimester, and with excessive vomiting
Each of these situations increases the amount of acid in the system. They can also reduce the amount of insulin your body makes, leading to the breakdown of fat cells and the production of ketones.
Causes of Alcoholic Ketoacidosis: Alcoholic Ketoacidosis can develop when you drink excessive amounts of alcohol over a long period of time. Excessive alcohol consumption often causes malnutrition (not enough nutrients for the body to function well).
People who drink large amounts of alcohol cannot eat regularly. They may also vomit as a result of drinking too much. Not eating enough or vomiting can lead to periods of hunger. This further reduces the body’s production of insulin .
If a person is already malnourished due to alcoholism, they can develop Alcoholic Ketoacidosis . This can occur as early as a day after a binge eating, depending on nutritional status, general health and the amount of alcohol consumed.
Symptoms of Alcoholic Ketoacidosis: Symptoms of Alcoholic Ketoacidosis vary depending on how much alcohol you have consumed. Symptoms will also depend on the amount of ketones in your bloodstream. Common symptoms of Alcoholic Ketoacidosis include:
- abdominal pain
- agitation and confusion
- Decreased alertness or coma
- Slow motion
- Irregular, deep, rapid breathing (Kussmaul’s sign)
- loss of appetite
- nausea and vomiting
- Symptoms of dehydration, such as dizziness (vertigo), vertigo, and thirst
If you develop any of these symptoms, seek emergency medical attention. Alcoholic ketoacidosis is a life-threatening disease. Someone with Alcoholic Ketoacidosis may also have other conditions associated with alcohol abuse . These may include:
- liver disease
- Kidney disease
- Ethylene glycol poisoning
These conditions must be ruled out before a medical professional can diagnose you with Alcoholic Ketoacidosis .
Diagnoses of Alcoholic Ketoacidosis: If you have symptoms of Alcoholic Ketoacidosis , your doctor will perform a physical exam. They will also ask about your health history and alcohol consumption . If your doctor suspects you’ve developed this condition, they may order additional tests to rule out other possible conditions. After the test results are complete, they can confirm the diagnosis.
Tests may include the following:
- Amylase and lipase tests, to monitor the functioning of the pancreas and check for pancreatitis
- Arterial blood gas test, to measure your blood oxygen levels and acid/base balance
- Calculation of the anion gap, which measures sodium and potassium levels
- blood alcohol test _
- Blood Chemistry Panel (CHEM-20), to get a comprehensive picture of your metabolism and how well it is working
- blood glucose test
- Blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine tests, to determine how well your kidneys are working
- Serum lactate test, to determine blood lactate levels (elevated lactate levels can be a sign of lactic acidosis, a condition that normally indicates that cells and
- body tissues are not getting enough oxygen)
- Urine test for ketones
If your blood glucose level is high, your doctor may also perform a hemoglobin A1C (HgA1C) test. This test will provide information about your sugar levels to help determine if you have diabetes . If you have diabetes , you may need additional treatment.
Alcohol Ketoacidosis Treatments: Treatment for Alcoholic Ketoacidosis is typically given in the emergency room. Your doctor will monitor your vital signs, including your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing. They will also give you fluids intravenously. You can receive vitamins and nutrients to help treat malnutrition, including:
Your doctor may also admit you to the intensive care unit (ICU) if you need ongoing care. The length of hospital stay depends on the severity of Alcoholic Ketoacidosis . It also depends on how long it takes to control your body and stay out of harm’s way. If you experience any additional complications during treatment, this will also affect the length of your hospital stay.
Complications of Alcoholic Ketoacidosis: A complication of Alcoholic Ketoacidosis is alcohol withdrawal. Your doctor and other medical professionals will watch you for withdrawal symptoms. If you have severe symptoms, they may give you medication. Alcoholic ketoacidosis can lead to gastrointestinal bleeding.
Other complications can include:
- With the
- Encephalopathy (a brain disease that can cause memory loss, personality changes, and muscle spasms, although this is uncommon)
Alcoholic Ketoacidosis Perspective: If you are diagnosed with Alcoholic Ketoacidosis , your recovery will depend on a number of factors. Seeking help as soon as symptoms arise reduces your chances of serious complications. Treatment for alcohol addiction is also necessary to prevent a relapse of Alcoholic Ketoacidosis .
Your prognosis will be affected by the severity of your alcohol consumption and whether or not you have liver disease. Prolonged use of alcohol can result in cirrhosis or permanent scarring of the liver. Cirrhosis of the liver can cause tiredness, swelling of the legs and nausea. This will have a negative effect on your overall prognosis.
Prevention of Alcoholic Ketoacidosis: You can prevent Alcoholic Ketoacidosis by limiting your alcohol intake. If you are addicted to alcohol , seek professional help. You can learn to reduce your alcohol intakeor eliminate it altogether. Participating in a local chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous can provide the support you need to cope. You should also follow all your doctor’s recommendations to ensure proper nutrition and recovery.