Alcoholic ketoacidosis

Alcoholic ketoacidosis


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

Alternative Names

Ketoacidosis - alcoholic


Alcoholic ketoacidosis is caused by alcohol use, usually excessive.


  • Fatigue
  • Slow, sluggish, lethargic movement
  • Breathing difficulty leading, when untreated, to an abnormal breathing pattern
  • Irregular deep, rapid breathing (Kussmaul's sign)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Symptoms of dehydration, such as dizziness and light-headedness
  • Confusion
  • Agitation
  • Changes in mental activity leading to loss of consciousness

Exams and Tests

  • Urine ketones
  • Blood chemistries, such as CHEM-20
  • Tests to check blood alcohol level


Treatment may involve fluids given through a vein. You may need to have your blood taken frequently.

Some people with this condition need to stay in the intensive care unit of a hospital.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Prompt medical attention improves the overall outlook.

Possible Complications

This can be a life-threatening disorder.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

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.

Alcoholic ketoacidosis
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