Alcoholic ketoacidosis is the buildup of ketones in the blood. Ketones are a type of acid that form when the body breaks down fat for energy.
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.
Treatment may involve fluids (salt and sugar solution) given through a vein. You may need to have your blood taken often. You may get vitamin supplements to treat nutritional deficiencies caused by excess alcohol use.
People with this condition are admitted to the hospital, often to the intensive care unit (ICU). Additional medications may be given to prevent alcohol withdrawal.
Prompt medical attention improves the overall outlook. How severe the alcoholism is, and the presence of liver disease or other complications also affect the outlook.
This can be a life-threatening disorder. Complications can include:
If you or someone else has symptoms of alcoholic ketoacidosis, seek emergency medical help.
Limiting the amount of alcohol you drink may help prevent this condition.
Ketoacidosis - alcoholic
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DuBose TD Jr. Acidosis and alkalosis. In: Fauci A , Kasper D, Longo DL, et al, eds. Harrison's Principals of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. New York, NY: McGraw Hill; 2008:chap 48.
Wiener SW, Hoffman RS. Alcoholic ketoacidosis. In: Wolfson AB, Hendey GW, Ling LJ, et al, eds. Harwood-Nuss' Clinical Practice of Emergency Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2009:chap 25.
Updated by: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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