What causes acidosis?

Acidosis is caused by an accumulation of acid in your body. Normally, your body effectively excretes or neutralizes 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.

A wide variety of conditions can cause or contribute to acidosis. They are generally broken down into groups known as metabolic acidosis or respiratory acidosis.

Common causes of metabolic acidosis

Metabolic acidosis occurs when your body generates excess acid, fails to remove or break down acid, or both such as occurs with:

  • Cancers
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis (life-threatening complication of diabetes)
  • Liver failure
  • Physical overexertion (lactic acidosis)
  • Severe diarrhea without electrolyte replacement
  • Specific medications such as acetazolamide that interfere with renal bicarbonate production
  • Too little oxygen, as might occur during a heart attack

Common causes of respiratory acidosis

Respiratory acidosis occurs when you have a lung defect or your breathing patterns result in too much carbon dioxide in your body:

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Sedative overdose
  • Severe asthma

What are the risk factors for acidosis?

A number of factors increase the risk of developing acidosis. Not all people with risk factors will get acidosis. Risk factors for acidosis include:

  • Asthma
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD, includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis), especially when severe, as it can limit lung function and cause acidosis
  • Diabetes, especially when untreated, can significantly increase the risk of acidosis
  • Kidney disease
  • Obesity
  • Severe diarrhea


What is acidosis?

Acidosis is a serious metabolic imbalance in which there is an excess of acidic molecules in the body. This can occur as a result of acid overproduction, impaired acid transport, acid underexcretion, or any combination. 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 unde... Read more about acidosisintroduction


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.

Common symptoms of acidosis

Acidosis symptoms vary widely depending on the underlying cause. A variety of illnesses that cause acidosis do share some common symptoms including:


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.

Treatment of respiratory acidosis

Treatment for respiratory acidosis may incl... Read more about acidosistreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 9, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 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

Popular Related Slide Show