When your liver uses up its stored glucose and you aren’t eating anything to provide more, your blood sugar levels will drop. Alcoholic ketoacidosis is a condition that can happen when you’ve had a lot of alcohol and haven’t had much to eat or have been vomiting. When this happens, it can cause ketones, which are acids, to build up in your blood. If not treated quickly, alcoholic ketoacidosis may be life-threatening.

What fluids are given in alcoholic ketoacidosis?

Once the diagnosis of alcoholic ketoacidosis (AKA) is established, the mainstay of treatment is hydration with 5% dextrose in normal saline (D5 NS) to address the principal physiologic derangement, a lack of metabolic substrate (glucose).

AKA most commonly occurs in long term alcoholics and less commonly in those who binge drink. Onset is generally after a decreased ability to eat for a few days. Blood sugar levels are often normal or only mildly increased. Other conditions that may present similarly include other causes of high anion gap metabolic acidosis including diabetic ketoacidosis. Alcoholic ketoacidosis is an acute metabolic disorder characterized by ketoacidosis and dehydration but little or no hyperglycemia or glucosuria.

Possible Complications of Alcoholic Ketoacidosis

Arterial blood gas – The blood gas analysis will most likely reveal a pH that is low or normal. The presence of a mixed disorder may also be present as significant vomiting can cause metabolic alkalosis. Neurologically, patients are often agitated, but may occasionally present lethargic on examination. Alcohol withdrawal, in combination with nausea and vomiting, makes most patients agitated. However, if an alcoholic ketoacidosis patient is lethargic or comatose, an alternative cause should be sought. Besides excessive alcohol consumption, not eating enough and vomiting due to alcohol use can also cause the body to reduce its production of insulin and lead to alcoholic ketoacidosis.

alcoholic ketoacidosis treatment at home

Patients with an uncomplicated ED course may be safely discharged home if there is resolution of acidosis and the patient is able to tolerate oral fluids. Patients should receive counseling on alcohol dependence, be encouraged to use multivitamins, and be offered treatment in an alcohol detoxification program. Patients with a complicated alcoholic ketoacidosis course, underlying illnesses, or persistent acidosis should be admitted for further evaluation and treatment (Table 226-3). The remainder of the patient’s laboratory evaluation – including liver enzymes, amylase, and lipase – were within normal limits, and methanol, ethylene glycol, salicylate, and digoxin levels were negative.


How long you stay depends on the severity of your ketoacidosis and how long your body takes to get back to normal. Preventing alcoholic ketoacidosis mainly involves limiting or quitting drinking altogether. Four patients were treated with insulin and four with NaHCO3 solutions.

Common concurrent illnesses are dehydration and electrolyte disturbances from vomiting and reduced intake, pancreatitis, gastritis or upper GI bleeding, seizures, alcohol withdrawal, pneumonia, sepsis, and hepatitis. Treatment is generally with intravenous normal saline and intravenous sugar solution. Thiamine and measures to prevent alcohol withdrawal are also recommended. Those who are affected are most frequently between the ages of 20 and 60. The condition was initially recognized in 1940 and named in 1971. People with this condition are usually admitted to the hospital, often to the intensive care unit . Medicines may be given to prevent alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Long-Term Effects of AKA

Ketoacidosis can also occur in those with type one diabetes. As you might already know, those with type one diabetes are unable to produce enough insulin. Without insulin injections, they’re likely to end up in a state of ketoacidosis.

Diagnosis is made in the appropriate clinical setting and is based on laboratory evaluation. Laboratory evaluation should include CBC; electrolyte panel with calcium, phosphate, and magnesium; ethanol, methanol, and isopropyl alcohol levels; hepatic enzymes; lipase; and serum ketones.

Symptoms Of Alcoholic Ketoacidosis

A degree of alcohol withdrawal and agitation are likely to present, resulting in an increased heart rate as well. Alcoholic ketoacidosis treatment may involve fluids given through a vein. You may get vitamin supplements to treat nutritional deficiencies caused by excess alcohol use.

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