What is acidosis?

Acidosis is a condition in which there is an excess of acidic molecules in the body. This can occur as a result of overproduction, underexcretion, or both. With overproduction, the body makes too much acid. This can occur in sepsis, a life-threatening widespread infection in which the body makes too much lactic acid. With underexcretion, the body is unable to rid itself of excess acid. This can occur in renal failure and various lung diseases.

In renal failure, the kidneys are unable to cleanse the blood of acid. In pulmonary diseases, the lungs are unable to exhale sufficient carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is a gaseous form of acid that builds up in the bloodstream. Both conditions may coexist in a number of serious diseases, such as pneumonia and pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs), which is seen in a particularly severe form of heart failure.

Doctors diagnose acidosis with blood tests, the most common of which is known as a pH test. The normal pH of the body is 7.4 (lower is more acidic, higher is more alkaline). Acidosis is defined as a pH less than 7.4. Specific blood tests may be used to identify particular acids, such as lactic acid.

The treatment of acidosis depends on its cause. Therapy may range from simple interventions, such as oral medications and intravenous fluids, to invasive measures, such as dialysis and surgery. The outcome of acidosis depends on its severity.

Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms, such as rapid breathing, confusion, shortness of breath, and lethargy, especially in the setting of lung disease, kidney disease, or other diseases that can cause acidosis.

Seek prompt medical care if you are being treated for chronic acidosis but mild symptoms recur or are persistent.


What are the symptoms of acidosis?

Symptoms of acidosis include your body attempting to decrease its level of acid, such as through rapid breathing. Other symptoms will depend on the underlying cause of acidosis.... Read more about acidosissymptoms


What causes acidosis?

Acidosis is caused by an accumulation of acid in your body. Normally, your body effectively excretes or eliminates acid through normal breathing and kidney function. If these functions are perturbed, or if the amount of acid your body produces increases significantly, acidosis can result.... Read more about acidosiscauses


How is acidosis treated?

Treatment for acidosis depends on the underlying cause. Treatments for respiratory acidosis target the lungs to improve efficiency so you can exhale carbon dioxide more effectively. Treatment for metabolic acidosis targets the underlying cause, though agents that decrease acidity may be given.... Read more about acidosistreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Kidneys and the Urinary System

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