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Medical Science Monitor Basic Research


eISSN: 1643-3750

Alcohol induced ketoacidosis, severe hypoglycemia and irreversible encephalopathy.

Hitender Jain, Sushil Beriwal, Shailender Singh

Med Sci Monit 2002; 8(11): CS77-79

ID: 4832

Available online:

Published: 2002-11-21

BACKGROUND: Severe hypoglycemia leading to permanent brain damage is rare in non-diabetic population. We present one such case where chronic alcoholism combined with prolonged fasting lead to such a state and patient ended in a persistent vegetative state. CASE REPORT: A 50 year old Asian woman with past history of chronic alcoholism and hepatitis C was found unresponsive in her house after drinking alcohol consecutively for 2 days. Finger-stick glucose done by paramedics was <20 mg/dl. She was given 50 ml of 50% dextrose without any neurological response. On arrival in the emergency department patient was found to be comatose with only withdrawal response to deep painful stimuli and a negative babinski's sign. Computed tomogram of the head revealed mild cerebral atrophy. After an extensive work up a diagnosis of alcoholic ketoacidosis with hypoglycemia related encephalopathy was made. CONCLUSIONS: Alcohol induced ketoacidosis is usually associated with normal blood glucose. The probable etiology of low blood sugar in our patient was alcohol-induced inhibition of gluconeogenesis along with starvation. The prolonged hypoglycemia caused cortical damage simulating ischemic brain damage. Ten months in to follow-up patient is still in persistent vegetative state with no noticeable neurological recovery.

Keywords: Acidosis - complications, Acidosis - etiology, Hypoglycemia - complications, Hypoglycemia - etiology, Ketosis - complications