What are the presenting features of alcoholic ketoacidosis (AKA)?

Updated: Aug 27, 2020
  • Author: George Ansstas, MD; Chief Editor: Romesh Khardori, MD, PhD, FACP  more...
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Patients with alcoholic ketoacidosis (AKA) almost always are alcoholics who, prior to the development of ketoacidosis, have engaged in a period of very heavy drinking, with subsequent abrupt cessation of alcohol consumption 1-2 days before presentation. Such presentations typically result from physical complaints, such as the following:

  • Nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain (each found in 60-75% of patients)

  • Dyspnea, tremulousness, and/or dizziness (10-20% each)

  • Muscle pain, diarrhea, syncope, and seizure (1-8% each)

  • Hematemesis or melena

These symptoms usually are attributed to alcoholic gastritis or pancreatitis.

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