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DefinitionAcidosis is a condition characterized by excessive acid in the body fluids.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
The acid/base status of the body (pH) is regulated by the kidneys and the lungs. Acidosis is caused by an accumulation of acid or a significant loss of bicarbonate. The major categories of acidosis are respiratory acidosis and metabolic acidosis .
The human body is programmed to correct for either respiratory or metabolic acidosis to maintain normal pH. For example, if the acidosis was caused by excessive carbon dioxide (which is an acid) the body will correct the pH by retaining bicarbonate (a base).
Hyperchloremic acidosis results from excessive loss of sodium bicarbonate from the body, as in severe diarrhea, for example.
Lactic acidosis is an accumulation of lactic acid . This can be caused by many conditions, including prolonged lack of oxygen (from, for example, shock, heart failure, or severe anemia), prolonged exercise, seizures, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), alcohol, liver failure, malignancy, or certain medications like salicylates.
Other causes of metabolic acidosis include severe dehydration -- resulting in decreased tissue perfusion (decreased blood flow), kidney disease (see distal renal tubular acidosis and proximal renal tubular acidosis ), and other metabolic diseases.
SymptomsSee the specific types of acidosis.
Signs and testsAn arterial blood gas analysis or a blood chemistry , such as a Chem-20, will confirm acidosis in most cases. Other tests may be needed to determine the cause of the acidosis.
TreatmentTreatment depends on the cause. See the specific types of acidosis.
Expectations (prognosis)Acidosis can be dangerous if untreated. Many causes respond adequately to treatment.
ComplicationsSee the specific types of acidosis.
Calling your health care providerAlthough there are several types of acidosis, all will cause symptoms that require treatment by your health care provider. (See the specific types of acidosis.)
PreventionPrevention or treatment of the underlying causes may prevent some cases of acidosis.
Update Date: 1/16/2004Jacqueline A. Hart, M.D., Department of Internal Medicine, Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Newton, Ma., and Senior Medical Editor, A.D.A.M., Inc. Previously reviewed by Andrew Koren, M.D., Department of Nephrology, NYU-Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network (1/19/2002).
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT