A healthy kidney can perform many processes. One of these processes is to keep the body’s acid level in balance. The kidneys can do this by removing acid from the body through urine. Metabolic acidosis is a condition that occurs when body fluids contain excessive amounts of acid. This happens when your kidneys and lungs cannot balance your body’s pH level. The body attempts to deal with the symptoms caused by the acidic state by regulating processes in the lungs, kidneys, and cells. There are many reasons why the body’s chemical balance can become more acidic. This implies the presence of either an excess of acid or an insufficient base. Metabolic acidosis is an underlying disorder that must be corrected to minimize morbidity and mortality.
It is an acid-base imbalance caused by excessive acid absorption or excessive bicarbonate excretion. Acute metabolic acidosis is another name for this condition. Acidosis can affect infants, children, and adults of all ages.
Blood should have a pH of about 7.4. According to a study, metabolic acidosis results from a pH below the normal range of 7.35 to 7.45. A pH of 7.45 or higher indicates alkalosis. Due to kidney disease or kidney failure, the body can experience acid buildup or a mild pH imbalance. Even though these numerical discrepancies may seem small, they can be somewhat serious. They can cause various health problems and are life-threatening. You can treat it, but treatment options vary depending on the underlying cause.
The underlying condition that triggers metabolic acidosis is the main source of the majority of symptoms. Here are some common signs of metabolic acidosis:
- Long, deep breaths
- rapid heartbeat
- Drowsiness or feeling tired
- Lack of appetite
Severe metabolic acidosis can lead to death or shock. If you experience any of these effects you should contact your doctor immediately.
It occurs when the body produces too much acid or removes too much base. Inadequate acid excretion by the kidney could also be the cause. The kidneys, not the lungs, are the starting point for metabolic acidosis. Depending on the causes, there are four main types of metabolic acidosis:
Diabetic acidosis or diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) or ketoacidosis
Diabetic acidosis is the result of the buildup of acidic molecules called ketone bodies caused by uncontrolled diabetes (usually type 1 diabetes). When a diabetic patient does not receive enough insulin and begins to become dehydrated, the body begins to burn fat for energy instead of carbohydrates, which leads to the accumulation of ketone bodies. Since these ketones are naturally acidic, they make your blood acidic.
It happens when your body excretes too much sodium bicarbonate, which is needed to balance acids in the blood. This type of acidosis can also result from both vomiting and diarrhea.
Renal tubular acidosis
Renal tubular acidosis can result from kidney disease, kidney failure, immune system abnormalities, and hereditary conditions that can damage the kidneys and cause excess acid to leak into the blood. This happens when the kidneys cannot eliminate acids in the urine.
It happens when the body creates too much or too little lactic acid. Muscle cells are the main producers of lactic acid. If you engage in prolonged vigorous exercise without adequate oxygen, your body will produce more lactic acid. Likewise, your body could produce more acids if you consume too many animal products.
Other factors that can cause metabolic acidosis include:
- A diet high in fat but low in carbohydrates
- Methanol or aspirin poisoning
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
If left untreated, metabolic acidosis can lead to the following health problems:
Your body can lose bone strength as a result of metabolic acidosis. As a result, it can increase your risk of breaking vital bones like your hips or spine.
Studies show that metabolic acidosis can trigger or worsen kidney disease. However, it is unclear exactly how this occurs.
Your body needs albumin, a crucial protein for healthy muscle growth and maintenance. Metabolic acidosis, which decreases albumin production in the body, leads to muscle wasting, also known as “muscle wasting”.
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Acid buildup in the blood can lead to serious health complications if left untreated. Metabolic acidosis affects the kidneys, heart, digestion and metabolism. Some people fully recover from metabolic acidosis, but others do not. How quickly you can treat the root cause of your metabolic acidosis has a significant impact on your recovery.
Testing and diagnosis
With these tests, your doctor can identify acidosis and determine the appropriate treatment.
The anion gap test helps determine the chemical balance in your blood. It compares the amount of sodium, chloride and bicarbonate, three positively and negatively charged ions, present in the body. If there is a concerning difference between the oppositely charged electrolytes, your doctor will know something is wrong.
Arterial blood gases
This test assesses the pH, carbon dioxide, and oxygen levels of your blood. Also, it helps identify various types of acidosis.
You will need to give a urine sample if metabolic acidosis is suspected. Doctors will check the pH to see if your body is properly removing acids and bases. It can reveal ketoacidosis, kidney problems, toxicity of alcohol, aspirin and antifreeze. Other tests may be needed to identify the source of your acidosis.
The type of treatment depends on the underlying cause of metabolic acidosis. There are a range of causes of acidosis that will temporarily go away without medical attention.
Bicarbonate, a kind of carbon dioxide, is a necessary component of everyone’s blood. Lower than normal bicarbonate blood levels (less than 22 mmol/l) indicate metabolic acidosis. Due to its alkaline nature, it can neutralize acid. It keeps blood acidity under control. However, unless advised otherwise by your doctor, you should not take medicines containing sodium citrate or sodium bicarbonate.
Fruits and vegetables are alkalizing, while meat, eggs, cheese and grains cause the body to produce acid. Therefore, increasing your fruit and vegetable intake can help reduce your body’s acid production. Depending on your stage of kidney disease, your nutritionist can advise you on how to safely increase the appropriate types and amounts of fruits and vegetables in your diet.
Metabolic acidosis results from the buildup of acid in the blood, causing a decrease in bicarbonate ions. Common side effects of untreated chronic metabolic acidosis include muscle breakdown and abnormal bone metabolism. Therefore, follow recommended dietary advice and take all medications as directed. Additionally, you can check your acid and base levels through routine blood tests and exams.