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.

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
  • Severe diarrhea without electrolyte replacement
  • 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 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. Thi... 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.... Read more about acidosissymptoms


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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