Alcoholic ketoacidosis

Emerg Med J. 2006 Jun;23(6):417-20. doi: 10.1136/emj.2004.017590.


Alcoholic ketoacidosis (AKA) is a common reason for investigation and admission of alcohol dependent patients in UK emergency departments. Although well described in international emergency medicine literature, UK emergency physicians rarely make the diagnosis of AKA. There is increasing evidence that rather than being benign and self limiting, AKA may be a significant cause of mortality in patients with alcohol dependence. This literature review discusses the history, characterisation, pathophysiology, diagnosis, and management of AKA.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acidosis / etiology*
  • Acidosis / therapy
  • Acute Disease
  • Alcoholism / blood
  • Alcoholism / complications*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Fluid Therapy
  • Humans
  • Ketosis / etiology*
  • Ketosis / therapy
  • NAD / metabolism
  • Potassium / therapeutic use
  • Thiamine / therapeutic use


  • NAD
  • Potassium
  • Thiamine