Metabolic Acidosis

Metabolic acidosis is a condition where there is an excess build up of acid in the body. Acidosis is typically detected by testing the acid level in the blood.  There are many different causes of metabolic acidosis, some of which are related to kidney disease and some that are unrelated to the kidneys.

Causes of Metabolic Acidosis

Metabolic acidosis may occur in many situations, including:

  • Kidney failure and certain other kidney diseases
  • Severe infection and sepsis
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)
  • Diarrhea
  • Overdoses of certain medications like aspirin
  • Metabolic disorders

Symptoms of Metabolic Acidosis

Mild metabolic acidosis may not have any associated symptoms.  In more severe cases, symptoms may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion

Diagnosis of Metabolic Acidosis

To diagnose acidosis, the doctor will perform a review of systems and physical examination. Other tests may include: 

  • Blood testing
  • Urine testing
  • Chest X-ray or other imaging
  • Arterial blood gas

Treatment of Metabolic Acidosis

Treatment may include administration of sodium bicarbonate, oxygen, and treating the underlying cause of the acidosis.  Treatment plans are carefully tailored to each individual patient because the cause and severity of acidosis can vary widely in different situations.

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