Alcoholism persists as a worldwide chronic disease, affecting millions and even leading to the death of many. Over half of the population in the US alone drinks alcoholic beverages on one or more occasions each month. Binge drinking is an activity that about 6.6% of the adults in the country engage in.
There are multiple complications that can develop when a person suffers from alcoholism. Addiction is only one such issue that comes to mind. Alcoholic ketoacidosis has also been noted in some patients. While a considerably rare diagnosis in some regions, there’s increasing evidence of the effects and prevalence of this condition among the population.
An alcohol detox center in Texas can provide a helpful treatment strategy for a person with alcoholism. This may assist in reducing the risk of complications, such as alcoholic ketoacidosis. We look at what alcoholic ketoacidosis is. We also consider what methods may be provided by an alcohol withdrawal treatment center in an effort to prevent this condition.
What is Alcoholic Ketoacidosis?
Ketoacidosis is a metabolic condition that is seen in some people with diabetes. Being a diabetic is not the only risk factor that may lead to ketoacidosis. There are other causes behind the condition too. In people with severe alcoholism, a risk of ketoacidosis exists too. In this case, the condition is generally referred to as alcoholic ketoacidosis – which means the ketoacidosis is induced by the consumption of alcohol.
To understand what alcoholic ketoacidosis is, a person needs to understand how glucose and insulin work in the body.
Glucose is extracted from foods and drinks that we consume. Pancreas, a type of gland in the body, makes a hormone known as insulin. This hormone helps with the breakdown and distribution of glucose. Insulin receptors are found throughout the body. These receptors allow insulin to deliver glucose to every cell. The cell, in turn, then uses the glucose as fuel – helping the cell perform its specific functions.
For this entire process to function normally, there needs to be a consistent release of insulin from the pancreas.
People who drink alcohol may experience problems with their insulin release. During alcohol consumption, the pancreas may stop making insulin. This generally only lasts for a short period of time. In most cases, the cessation of insulin production does not last long enough to cause major immediate problems.
A person with alcoholism may experience a more consistent effect where the pancreas stops to make these hormones. There may also be a longer period during which insulin is not produced. When cells have insufficient glucose to function, the body starts to turn toward an alternative energy source.
The result is fat burn. The body will burn fat in order to create energy for cells to function. During this process, a byproduct called ketones will be released into the body. Initially, the ketones that result from the fat burning process should not pose a serious issue. When no insulin is produced for too long, however, the ketones may build up in the person’s blood.
As the ketones accumulate in the person’s blood, the risk of alcoholic ketoacidosis becomes greater. The condition can become life-threatening – especially when the individual does not gain fast access to medical care.
What Are The Symptoms of Alcoholic Ketoacidosis?
Since alcoholic ketoacidosis can become life-threatening, people are advised to know what symptoms to look out for. This is especially important for a person with alcohol abuse problems, as well as their loved ones.
There are a few common symptoms that tend to develop in the presence of alcoholic ketoacidosis. Some of these may include:
- Alertness may be adversely affected.
- Most people will experience fatigue.
- There may be a reduction in movement speed.
- Stomach pain is common.
- Confusion may be noted, along with agitation.
- The person is likely to lose their appetite.
- Nausea may occur, sometimes accompanied by vomiting.
- Breathing may become rapid and irregular.
- Dizziness and extreme thirst may signal dehydration.
In some cases, the person may also fall into a coma when they have alcoholic ketoacidosis. The risk of mortality increases if the patient already has other conditions that are caused by their alcoholism. This may include an ulcer in their stomach. Pancreatitis, kidney disease, and liver disease can also increase the risk of developing more serious complications when the person suffers alcoholic ketoacidosis.
How Alcoholic Ketoacidosis is Treated
A diagnosis is needed before treatment can be provided. The doctor needs to make sure they rule out all potential causes of the symptoms experienced. Some studies have noted that the diagnosis of alcoholic ketoacidosis is not as accurate as it should be. The symptoms tend to overlap with other conditions. This causes some people to be diagnosed with a different condition – which could ultimately lead to death since treatment that is specific to alcoholic ketoacidosis was not provided.
Some tests that can be used in the diagnosis process include:
- Blood glucose testing
- Blood urea nitrogen test
- Blood creatinine test
- Serum lactate test
- Ketone test (from urine sample)
- Arterial blood gas test
- Lipase test
- Amylase test
- Anion gap calculation
- Blood alcohol test
- Blood chemistry panel
Following a diagnosis with alcoholic ketoacidosis, emergency treatment is administered to the patient. The individual will be connected to appropriate medical devices to provide consistent monitoring of their breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate. The doctor will also connect an IV drip to the patient to deliver essential fluids. This helps to reduce the risk of dehydration.
Specific nutrients are also provided to the patient as part of the treatment process. These include magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and thiamine.
Depending on the severity of the condition, some patients need to be admitted to an ICU unit. This provides them with continuous monitoring and cares while they are recovering.
The treatment period depends from patient-to-patient. Some people do not require intensive treatment as others. For those individuals with a more severe case of alcoholic ketoacidosis, however, treatment may take several weeks before the patient will start to recover effectively.
Some complications can happen even when the patient had received treatment. These include psychosis, pancreatitis, and pneumonia. There have been cases where patients developed encephalopathy as a complication of alcoholic ketoacidosis. This is a brain disease that leads to muscle twitching and changes in a person’s personality. Memory loss will also be a common complication if the person develops encephalopathy.
The Role of an Alcohol Addiction Treatment Center
Alcohol addiction treatment is important for people who want to take control of their health. The first step is generally for the individual to seek assistance from a treatment center. This can be done through the help of family members or friends. A treatment center will assess the severity of the alcoholism and provide recommendations for appropriate treatment.
An alcohol detox center in Texas may also play a role in the prevention of alcoholic ketoacidosis. This condition can develop at any time in people who suffer from alcoholism – and it can cause fatal complications. By accessing a treatment center for alcoholism, a person is able to take control of their habits before serious complications occur.
These centers can offer the person access to either inpatient or outpatient treatment programs. The goal will be to help the person stop abusing alcohol – ultimately helping them reach complete sobriety while minimizing the risk of a relapse.
By helping the person stop abusing alcohol, the treatment center also helps to reduce the persistent halt in insulin production. This means the person’s risk of developing alcoholic ketoacidosis as a complication of excessive alcohol consumption is significantly reduced.
The development of alcoholic ketoacidosis can pose a significant health risk to a person. Without medical intervention, there’s also a risk of death. Complications may develop if treatment is not initiated soon after symptoms develop. Patients are able to implement a preventative strategy by opting for treatment at an appropriate center.
Inpatient rehab for alcohol in Texas assists in providing close supervision of the patient; which is helpful in cases of severe alcoholism. Patients with minor alcoholism may not be at such a great risk but can still benefit from an outpatient treatment program.