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Alcoholic Ketoacidosis: Can This Condition Kill You?

Alcohol dependence, or alcoholism, is a serious problem involving millions worldwide. It is a chronic disease that can have devastating consequences for the individual and their family and friends. Aside from that, alcoholism is a progressive disease, meaning that if left untreated, it will only worsen over time.

As such, people are advised to undergo alcohol detox. However, if they don’t, they can experience one of the unknown killers relating to this case, alcoholic ketoacidosis.

What Is Alcoholic Ketoacidosis?

Alcoholic ketoacidosis is a medical condition that can occur when excessive alcohol consumption leads to a build-up of ketones in the blood, which are acidic by-products of the breakdown of alcohol. When these ketones accumulate in the bloodstream, they can cause a drop in blood pH, leading to metabolic acidosis.

The most common cause of alcoholic ketoacidosis is a combination of alcohol consumption and inadequate nutrition. Alcohol consumption causes the body to produce ketones faster than it can be used, leading to an excessive accumulation of ketones in the blood. 

At the same time, inadequate nutrition means that the body cannot use the ketones for energy and instead breaks them down into acids, which can cause a dangerous acid-base imbalance. Hence why people with this condition are advised to undergo alcohol detox.

What Are the Symptoms of Alcoholic Ketoacidosis?

While most people might think alcoholic ketoacidosis is similar to alcohol poisoning, the two conditions are quite different. Symptoms of alcoholic ketoacidosis can include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • abdominal pain
  • fatigue
  • confusion
  • shortness of breath
  • hypoglycemia
  • dehydration
  • rapid heartbeat
  • drop in sugar levels

How Can Alcoholic Ketoacidosis Kill You?

There are many ways alcoholic ketoacidosis can kill you, such as:

  • Hypothermia. Because the body cannot produce energy efficiently, the body’s temperature can drop dangerously low, leading to hypothermia.
  • Electrolyte Imbalance. Alcoholic ketoacidosis can cause an electrolyte imbalance, making the heart’s rhythm irregular and leading to a heart attack, stroke, or sudden death.
  • Dehydration. Alcoholic ketoacidosis can lead to extreme dehydration, resulting in low blood pressure and shock.
  • Alcohol Poisoning. Since the body cannot process alcohol efficiently, excessive amounts can lead to an overdose, resulting in alcohol poisoning.

How to Prevent Alcoholic Ketoacidosis

One way to prevent alcoholic ketoacidosis from getting worse is to undergo an alcohol detox. This program involves gradually reducing the alcohol you drink until you completely abstain from it. Aside from that, you’ll be required to take medications to help ease withdrawal symptoms. This way, you can avoid developing alcohol-related medical complications.

It’s also important to seek professional help if you or a loved one is coping with an alcohol use disorder. A doctor can provide treatments and medications to help manage the disorder and reduce the risk of developing alcoholic ketoacidosis.

Finally, it’s best to limit or avoid drinking alcohol altogether. If you choose to drink, do so in moderation and never exceed the recommended daily limit. After all, excessive consumption of alcohol can lead to serious health problems and complications.

Final Thoughts

Alcoholic ketoacidosis (AKA) is a potentially life-threatening condition when a person consumes too much alcohol. This condition is caused by the body’s inability to process a large amount of alcohol consumed, leading to an accumulation of ketones in the blood. 

It is vital to seek medical help immediately if you speculate that you or a loved one may be experiencing symptoms of AKA. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent serious complications and even death.

The American Addiction Institute of Mind & Medicine provides alcohol detox programs in Orange County to ensure that individuals suffering from AKA receive the appropriate medical care and treatment to help them begin their journey to recovery. Consult with us today!

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