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What is metabolic acidosis? A Detailed Guide – HealthifyMe

A healthy kidney can carry out many processes. One of these processes is to balance the acid level of the body. The kidneys can do this by removing acid from the body through urine. Metabolic acidosis is a condition that occurs when there is an excessive amount of acid in body fluids. This happens when your kidneys and lungs can’t balance your body’s pH levels. The body attempts to relieve symptoms caused by acidic conditions by regulating processes in the lungs, kidneys and cells. There are many reasons why the chemical balance of the body can become more acidic. This refers to the presence of too much acid or not enough base. Metabolic acidosis is an underlying disorder that needs to be corrected to reduce 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 any age.

The pH of the blood should be around 7.4. according to a studyMetabolic acidosis results from a pH lower than the normal range of 7.35 to 7.45. A pH of 7.45 or above is a sign of alkalinity. Due to kidney disease or kidney failure, the body may experience acid accumulation or a mild pH imbalance. Even though these numerical deviations may appear minimal, they can be somewhat serious. It can cause a variety of health problems and can be potentially life-threatening. You can treat it, but treatment options vary depending on the underlying cause.

The underlying condition that is triggering metabolic acidosis is the primary source of most symptoms. Following are some of the common symptoms of metabolic acidosis:

  • long and deep breaths
  • fast heartbeat
  • Confusion
  • fatigue
  • Headache
  • feeling sleepy or tired
  • loss of appetite
  • Jaundice
  • Vomiting

Severe metabolic acidosis can cause death or shock. If you experience any of these, you should contact your doctor immediately.

It occurs when the body produces too much acid or removes too many bases. Inadequate acid excretion by the kidneys may also be the cause. The kidneys, not the lungs, is where metabolic acidosis begins. Based on the cause, there are four primary types of metabolic acidosis:

diabetic acidosis or diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), or ketoacidosis

Diabetic acidosis is the result of a build-up of acidic molecules, known as ketone bodies, brought on by uncontrolled diabetes (usually type 1 diabetes). When a diabetic patient does not get enough insulin and dehydration sets in, the body begins to burn fat for energy instead of carbohydrates, resulting in a build-up of ketones. Since these ketones are naturally acidic, they make your blood acidic.

hyperchloremic acidosis

It occurs when your body excretes too much sodium bicarbonate, which is needed to balance acid in the blood. This type of acidosis can also be caused by 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 them to leak too much acid into the blood. This occurs when the kidneys are unable to eliminate the acid in the urine.

lactic acidosis

It occurs when the body makes too much or not enough lactic acid. Muscle cells are the major producers of lactic acid. If you do vigorous exercise for a long time without enough oxygen, your body will produce more lactic acid. Similarly, if you consume too many animal products, your body may produce more acid.

Other factors that can cause metabolic acidosis include:

  • a high fat but low carb diet
  • overweight
  • dehydration
  • poisoning with methanol or aspirin
  • poisoning by carbon monoxide
  • cancer


If left untreated, metabolic acidosis can develop into 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 important bones like your hips or spine.

kidney disease

Studies Show metabolic acidosis can trigger or worsen kidney disease. However, it is not clear how this happens.

muscle loss

Your body needs the important protein albumin for healthy muscle growth and maintenance. Metabolic acidosis, which reduces the body’s production of albumin, causes loss of muscle mass, also known as “muscle wasting”.

HealthifyMe Note

If left untreated, the accumulation of acid in the blood can lead to serious health complications. Metabolic acidosis affects the kidneys, heart, digestion, and metabolism. Some people recover completely from metabolic acidosis, but others do not. How quickly you can address the primary cause of your metabolic acidosis significantly affects how well you recover.

Testing and Diagnosis

With these tests, your doctor can identify acidosis and prescribe appropriate treatment.

anion gap

Anion gap test helps determine the chemical balance in your blood. It compares how much sodium, chloride and bicarbonate—three positively and negatively charged ions—are present in the body. If there’s a difference between the oppositely charged electrolytes, your doctor will know something is wrong.

arterial blood gases

This test measures the pH, carbon dioxide, and oxygen levels of your blood. Also, it helps to identify different types of acidosis.

urine test

You will need to provide a urine sample if metabolic acidosis is suspected. Your doctor will check your pH to see if your body is eliminating acids and bases properly. This can reveal ketoacidosis, kidney problems, alcohol, aspirin and antifreeze poisoning. More testing may be needed to identify the source of your acidosis.


The type of treatment depends on the underlying cause of metabolic acidosis. There are many causes of acidosis that will go away temporarily without medical attention.


Bicarbonate, a type of carbon dioxide, is an essential component of everyone’s blood. A blood bicarbonate level lower than normal (less than 22 mmol/l) indicates metabolic acidosis. Due to its alkali nature, it can neutralize acid. It controls the acidity of the blood. However, you should not take over-the-counter medications containing sodium citrate or sodium bicarbonate unless your doctor advises you to.

dietary changes

Fruits and vegetables are alkalizing, while meat, eggs, cheese and grains produce acid in the body. As a result, increasing your consumption of fruits and vegetables may 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 a buildup of acid in your blood, which leads to a decrease in bicarbonate ions. Common adverse effects of untreated chronic metabolic acidosis include muscle deterioration and abnormal bone metabolism. Therefore, follow the recommended dietary advice and take all medicines as directed. In addition, you can check your acid-base level through regular blood tests and examinations.

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