What Is Alcoholic Ketoacidosis?
More than 25% of people ages 18 and older in the United States admit to heavy alcohol use. Unfortunately, only about 7% of people who suffer from AUD (Alcohol Use Disorder) seek help.
One of the many dangers of AUD is alcoholic ketoacidosis, a condition where there is too much acid in the body's fluids.
If you or a loved one engage in too much alcohol consumption and it leads to alcoholic ketoacidosis, you must seek help. Keep reading to learn more about alcoholic ketoacidosis symptoms so that it doesn't become dangerous.
Alcoholic Ketoacidosis Causes
When you drink an abundance of alcohol for a long period of time, alcoholic ketoacidosis can quickly develop.
A lot of people who drink lots of alcohol don't eat regularly. Sometimes, they also vomit due to excessive drinking. Drinking too much can lead to malnourishment, which means the body doesn't have enough nutrients to function properly.
When you don't eat regularly and vomit regularly, it can lead to periods of starvation. As a result, the body's insulin production diminishes. Once you're malnourished because of alcoholism, it can quickly lead to alcoholic ketoacidosis.
Depending on one's nutritional status and overall health, the condition can occur even one day after a drinking binge. Thus, it's caused by the combined effects of starvation and alcohol on one's glucose metabolism.
What Is Alcoholic Ketoacidosis?
Cells need sugar (glucose) and insulin in order to function. We get glucose from the food we eat and our pancreas produces insulin. When you drink alcohol, however, your pancreas may stop producing insulin. Without it, your cells can't use the glucose that you consume for energy.
Your body needs the energy to function, so it'll begin burning fat to get the energy it needs.
As your body burns fat, ketone bodies get produced. If your body isn't burning insulin, though, those ketone bodies will start to build in your bloodstream. The buildup of those byproducts can cause a life-threatening condition called ketoacidosis.
Also known as metabolic acidosis, it happens when you ingest something that gets turned into acid or metabolized. This particular condition can be caused by a variety of things, such as:
● Abnormal metabolism
● Kidney disease
● Large amounts of aspirin
There are several types of ketoacidosis, including alcoholic ketoacidosis. Alcoholic ketoacidosis, as we know, is caused by excessive consumption of alcohol.
Starvation ketoacidosis typically occurs in women who are in their 3rd trimester of pregnancy and undergoing excessive vomiting. Diabetic ketoacidosis develops mostly in those who have type 1 diabetes.
Alcoholic Ketoacidosis Symptoms
Many people who suffer from alcohol addiction often have other conditions, such as:
● Liver disease
● Kidney disease
● Ethylene glycol poisoning
Anyone with these conditions must have them ruled out before being diagnosed with alcoholic ketoacidosis.
Symptoms of alcoholic ketoacidosis vary, depending on how much alcohol has been consumed. Symptoms also vary based on the number of ketones in one's bloodstream. Some common symptoms are:
● Confusion and agitation
● Abdominal pain
● Slow movement
● Loss of appetite
● Vomiting and nausea
● Irregular, rapid, and deep breathing
● Dehydration symptoms (lightheadedness, vertigo, thirst)
If you or a loved one develop or show any of these symptoms, you should seek immediate medical attention. If alcohol abuse leads to alcoholic ketoacidosis, it can be life-threatening.
Alcoholic Ketoacidosis Complications
Alcoholic ketoacidosis can lead to alcohol withdrawal. However, your doctor will watch you for symptoms, and if they become severe, they'll likely give you medication. The condition can also lead to other complications, such as:
● Gastrointestinal bleeding
Encephalopathy is a brain disease. It can cause personality changes, memory loss, and even muscle twitching.
Alcoholic Ketoacidosis Treatment
Typically, the initial treatment of alcoholic ketoacidosis gets administered by the emergency room. Your doctor monitors your vital signs the entire time, including your blood pressure, breathing, and heart rate.
You'll receive fluids intravenously and might also receive nutrients and vitamins to help treat your malnutrition. Some of the nutrients you might receive are:
If your symptoms are severe and you require ongoing care, you may be admitted to the ICU. The length of your stay depends on how severe your alcoholic ketoacidosis is. If any complications arise during treatment, it could extend your length of time being treated as well.
When someone suffers from alcoholic ketoacidosis, it's indicative of a greater issue. In addition to recovering from the life-threatening alcoholic ketoacidosis, you must also seek treatment for alcohol addiction.
Alcohol Addiction Treatment
Treatment for alcohol addiction is different for everyone, depending on factors like how much they drink, their lifestyle, whether or not they have a dual diagnosis, and whether their life allows for inpatient treatment.
Patients show great success in beautiful, luxury settings where they can begin living a fulfilling life of wellness without the temptation of alcohol.
At The Ohana, we guide our clients to face what fuels their addictions, using holistic and evidence-based modalities.
Addiction is a complex disorder, which is why we believe treating a whole patient includes considering psychological, socio-environmental, and biological factors. As professionals, we must approach addictions through a multifaceted lens so that we don't just tackle addictions but also the causes behind them.
Respond to Signs of Alcoholic Ketoacidosis
If you or a loved one shows signs of alcoholic ketoacidosis, it's imperative that you seek emergency medical attention. Alcoholic ketoacidosis is a life-threatening condition that must be treated immediately.
As soon as you recover, you must treat the AUD. AUD is both physically and mentally detrimental to one's self and those around them. Take the time to choose a recovery center that gets to the root of the issues while developing a personal plan for recovery and transitioning back into the real world.
At The Ohana, you'll recover amongst beauty, with no shortage of nature and activities to help heal your mind, body, and soul.
Are you ready to find out how we can help you start your journey to recovery? Contact us with any thoughts or concerns so that we can get you started with the care you need to start your path of wellness.