Differential Diagnosis of Alcohol Poisoning

*Metabolic acidosis with an increased gap may occur due to production of lactic acid or hypoglycemia(ketones)

  • All are commonly used as an ethanol substitute.
  • All are initially metabolized by alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH).
  • Blood levels of each alcohol - is the most specific test!

 Key Clues

  • Alcohol and Isopropyl alcohol look similar except fruity breath!
  • Isopropyl alcohol can be distinguished from Methanol and ethylene glycol because of the absence of anion gap metabolic acidosis!
  • Fluorescence of the urine under Wood’s lamp suggests ethylene glycol because of fluorescein, a component of antifreeze.


Download the Alcohol Poisoning CheatSheet!

Category: Pathology Mnemonics

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