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Can Alcoholic Ketoacidosis kill You?

To learn how you can start a journey toward recovery, contact us at Gateway Foundation today. With these tests, the doctor could find evidence of diabetes, which will require specialized treatment. If a patient has a concurrent illness or condition along with ketoacidosis, the next steps may need to be different.

  • Alcoholism is a serious, prevalent problem that can have severe consequences.
  • Further, vitamin K administration in our patient resulted in normalization of his INR.
  • Preventing alcoholic ketoacidosis mainly involves limiting or quitting drinking altogether.
  • Consuming too much alcohol regularly, combined with a poor diet, can lead to the pancreas failing to produce insulin for a short time.
  • Seeking treatment sooner than later might prevent this life-threatening condition.

If your blood glucose level is elevated, your doctor may also perform a hemoglobin A1C (HgA1C) test. This test will provide information about your sugar levels to help determine whether you have diabetes. It most often occurs in a malnourished person who drinks large amounts of alcohol every day. Alcoholic ketoacidosis is the buildup of ketones in the blood due to alcohol use. Ketones are a type of acid that form when the body breaks down fat for energy. Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is a term used by mental health professionals to diagnose individuals with more severe alcohol problems.

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ConclusionSigns and symptoms of AKA can often be non-specific and should be considered in patients with recent cessation of heavy alcohol use with vomiting and metabolic derangements. An elevated INR in a patient with chronic alcoholism may be due to vitamin K deficiency, which has not been previously reported. Alcoholic ketoacidosis (also known as metabolic acidosis) is an acid-base disorder where the ketones in the blood build-up due to heavy alcohol intake. It’s a serious disorder that can be fatal if the symptoms become too severe or if it’s not treated properly. Alcoholic ketoacidosis occurs when NAD is depleted by ethanol metabolism, resulting in inhibition of the aerobic metabolism in the Krebs cycle, depletion of glycogen stores, ketone formation, and lipolysis stimulation.

Medically supervised detoxification can reduce the risk of severe withdrawal symptoms (which can contribute to AKA development) and the risk of relapse. An alcoholic ketoacidosis episode causes the body to produce ketones in response to the lack of nutrition it’s receiving. Ketones are acidic chemicals the body produces and uses as an energy source when there’s a lack of glucose. Alcohol prevents the body from making glucose; therefore, drinking increases the natural production of ketones. When you combine this increased level of ketones with not eating for a few days (and not getting glucose), the body is flooded with ketones. Alcoholic ketoacidosis is a serious condition that can result from heavy alcohol use over a long period.

Treatment for Alcoholic Ketoacidosis

The condition is an acute form of metabolic acidosis, a condition in which there is too much acid in body fluids. The liver’s inability to synthesize and release glucose can also lead to dangerously high levels of lactate. Excess levels of lactate can result in lactic acidosis, which further complicates AKA.3,5 Excessive alcoholic ketoacidosis symptoms use of alcohol can also lead to other medical issues such as alcoholic cirrhosis. Heavy alcohol use can also impair the liver’s ability to synthesize and release glucose. These two factors decrease the body’s normal levels of readily available energy, and it responds by breaking down fat and producing ketones.

The lack of glucose causes your body to produce more ketones, which are then released into the bloodstream. This is how alcoholic ketoacidosis comes about—too many ketones in an environment with too little glucose. Excessive drinking damages the pancreas, impacting insulin production. When this happens, your cells will have to burn fat to produce energy. Having too many ketones in the bloodstream is known as a dangerous condition called ketoacidosis.