Alcoholic ketoacidosis--a review

J Emerg Med. Sep-Oct 1987;5(5):399-406. doi: 10.1016/0736-4679(87)90146-6.


Alcoholic ketoacidosis is a frequently encountered metabolic disturbance that follows a prolonged intake of ethanol. Following a brief duration of abstinence, patients typically present with vomiting, abdominal pain, and shortness of breath. Examination reveals Kussmaul breathing, variable volume loss, and coincident manifestations of chronic alcohol usage. Characteristic laboratory findings include anion-gap metabolic ketoacidosis, normal serum glucose, and zero ethanol levels. Phosphate measurements may be depressed, particularly after institution of therapy. Intravascular volume restitution, delivery of dextrose, attention to electrolytes, and discovery of alcohol-related illnesses are the mainstays of therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acidosis / etiology*
  • Alcoholism / complications*
  • Ethanol / metabolism
  • Fluid Therapy
  • Glucose / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Ketosis / diagnosis
  • Ketosis / etiology*
  • Ketosis / metabolism
  • Ketosis / therapy


  • Ethanol
  • Glucose