Alcoholic ketoacidosis (AKA) is a condition that is developed by people who have been drinking alcoholic beverages in excess. AKA results in an increase of ketones, or a type of acid put off by the body after breaking down fats, in a person’s blood. The condition is most common in adults who have a history of alcoholism, but those who have little experience drinking might also develop the condition. Anyone who exhibits symptoms of AKA should seek medical attention immediately, because the condition is potentially fatal.
If a person who has been consuming large amounts of alcohol does not receive sufficient nutrition from eating a balanced diet, the acid levels in his or her blood might rise, causing certain health problems. Drinking alcohol only in moderation, as well as eating food while drinking alcohol, can help reduce the likelihood that a person who has been drinking will develop alcoholic ketoacidosis. When the body breaks down fat cells after they are consumed, the process creates acids that are called ketones. During alcoholic ketoacidosis, the blood’s potenz hydrogen (pH) balance drops as the amount of acid increases dramatically.
People who have a history of alcohol abuse are most likely to develop alcoholic ketoacidosis. When a person who is an alcoholic consumes large amounts of alcohol daily and does not eat enough food, the person’s ketone production eventually increases significantly. Alcoholics are not the only people who might develop alcoholic ketoacidosis, because inexperienced drinkers might also come down with the condition after binge drinking.
Symptoms of alcoholic ketoacidosis, especially those that are less severe, might be mistaken for other medical conditions, such as the stomach flu or indigestion. Some less-severe symptoms of AKA include stomach pain, general fatigue and little to no desire to eat. More serious symptoms can include feeling nauseous or repeatedly vomiting, dehydration and the person becoming less alert or even losing consciousness for a period of time.
When a person develops symptoms of AKA, he or she should seek emergency medical treatment as soon as possible. AKA can be fatal if not treated by a medical professional, with the patient often ending up in a hospital’s intensive care unit. Doctors might administer salts and sugar intravenously in an attempt to counteract the effects of AKA. The hospital very closely monitors the patient’s blood composition, specifically ketone levels, to track whether the patient is showing signs of improvement. Long-term treatment of AKA might also involve the physician ensuring that the patient enrolls in an alcoholic recovery program after being discharged from the hospital.