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Alternative NamesKetoacidosis - alcoholic
Definition Return to top
Alcoholic ketoacidosis is the build up of ketones in the blood. Ketones are a type of acid that form when the body breaks down fat for energy.
The condition is an acute form of metabolic acidosis.
Causes Return to top
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.
Symptoms Return to top
Exams and Tests Return to top
Treatment Return to top
Treatment may involve fluids (salt and sugar solution) given through a vein. You may need to have your blood taken frequently.
People with this condition are admitted to the hospital, often to the intensive care unit (ICU).
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Prompt medical attention improves the overall outlook.
Possible Complications Return to top
This can be a life-threatening disorder. Patients with alcoholic ketoacidosis often have or develop gastrointestinal bleeding, pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), and pneumonia.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
If you or someone else has symptoms of alcoholic ketoacidosis, seek emergency medical help.
Prevention Return to top
Limiting the amount of alcohol you drink may help prevent this condition.
References Return to top
Cho KC, Fukagawa M, Kurokawa K. Fluid and electrolyte disorders. In: McPhee SJ, Papadakis MA, eds. Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment. 48th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2009:chap 21.
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.Update Date: 4/21/2009 Updated by: Jacob L. Heller, MD, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington, Clinic. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.