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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Diet-induced Ketoacidosis in a Non-diabetic: A Case Report

  • Author(s): Slade, Sam
  • Ashurst, John
  • et al.

Introduction: Anion gap metabolic acidosis is a common disorder seen in the emergency department. The differential can include toxicological, renal, endocrine, infectious, and cardiogenic disorders. Ketosis, however, is one of the rarer causes of metabolic acidosis seen by the emergency physician in developed nations.

Case Report: A 53-year-old female presented after starting a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet for weight loss. She reported xerostomia, nausea with abdominal pain and a 17-pound weight loss over the previous 22 days. Labs revealed an anion-gap metabolic acidosis with ketosis. She was treated with 5% dextrose in normal saline and a sliding scale insulin coverage. Her anion gap corrected during her hospital course and was discharged on hospital day three.

Discussion: The ketogenic diet typically consists of a high-fat, adequate protein and low carbohydrate diet that has previously been thought to be relatively safe for weight loss. However, when carbohydrates are completely removed from the diet an overproduction of ketones bodies results in ketoacidosis. Treatment should be aimed at halting the ketogenic process and patient education.

Conclusion: Although rarely included in the differential for metabolic acidosis, diet-induced ketosis should be included by the emergency physician when faced with a patient who recently changed their eating patterns.

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