Metabolic acidosis (patient information)
Metabolic acidosis On the Web
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Metabolic acidosis is a condition in which there is too much acid in the body fluids.
What are the symptoms of Metabolic acidosis?
Most symptoms are caused by the underlying disease or condition that is causing the metabolic acidosis. Metabolic acidosis itself usually causes rapid breathing. Confusion or lethargy may also occur. Severe metabolic acidosis can lead to shock or death. In some situations, metabolic acidosis can be a mild, chronic (ongoing) condition.
What causes Metabolic acidosis?
Metabolic acidosis occurs when the body produces too much acid, or when the kidneys are not removing enough acid from the body. There are several types of metablic acidosis:
- Diabetic acidosis (also called diabetic ketoacidosis and DKA) develops when substances known as ketone bodies, which are acidic, build up during uncontrolled diabetes
- Hyperchloremic acidosis results from excessive loss of sodium bicarbonate from the body, as can happen with severe diarrhea
- Lactic acidosis is a buildup of lactic acid. It can be caused by:
Other causes of metabolic acidosis include:
- Kidney disease (distal tubular acidosis and proximal renal tubular acidosis)
- Poisoning by aspirin, ethylene glycol (found in antifreeze), or methanol
- Severe dehydration
Who is at highest risk?
Patient suffering from any of the conditions mentioned above are at risk of metabolic acidosis.
When to seek urgent medical care?
Seek medical treatment if you develop symptoms of any disease that can cause metabolic acidosis.
Arterial blood gas analysis or a serum electrolytes test (such as a basic metabolic panel) will confirm acidosis is present and determine whether it is respiratory acidosis or metabolic acidosis.
Other tests may be needed to determine the cause of the acidosis.
Treatment is aimed at the underlying condition. In certain circumstances, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) may be given to improve the acidity of the blood.
Where to find medical care for Metabolic acidosis?
What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?
What can be expected will depend on the underlying disease causing the metabolic acidosis.
When very severe, metabolic acidosis can lead to shock or death.