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 the urine. Metabolic acidosis is a condition that occurs when the body fluids contain excessive amounts of acid. It happens when your kidneys and lungs can’t balance your body’s pH levels. The body tries to deal with the symptoms caused by the acidic condition by regulating processes in the lungs, kidneys and cells. There are many reasons why the body’s chemical balance can become more acidic. It implies the presence of either excess acid or insufficient base. Metabolic acidosis is an underlying condition that must be corrected to minimize morbidity and mortality.

It is an acid-base imbalance caused by excessive absorption of acid or excessive excretion of bicarbonate. Acute metabolic acidosis is another name for this condition. Acidosis can affect babies, children and adults of any age.

Blood should have a pH of about 7.4. according to an studiesMetabolic acidosis results from a pH that is below the normal range of 7.35 to 7.45. A pH of 7.45 or higher indicates alkalosis. As a result of kidney disease or kidney failure, the body may experience an acid buildup or mild pH imbalance. While these numerical abnormalities may seem minimal, they can be somewhat serious. It can cause a variety of health problems and is potentially life-threatening. You can treat it, but treatment options vary depending on the underlying cause.

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

  • Long and deep breaths
  • rapid heartbeat
  • confusion
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • Drowsiness or feeling tired
  • Lack of appetite
  • Jaundice
  • vomit

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

It occurs when the body produces too much acid or eliminates too much base. Insufficient acid excretion by the kidneys can also cause this. The kidneys, not the lungs, are where metabolic acidosis begins. Based on causes, there are four primary types of metabolic acidosis:

Diabetic acidosis or diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), or ketoacidosis

Diabetic acidosis is the result of the buildup of the acidic molecules known as ketone bodies caused by uncontrolled diabetes (usually type 1 diabetes). When a diabetic does not get enough insulin and begins to become dehydrated, the body begins to burn fat for energy instead of carbohydrates, resulting in a buildup of ketones. Because these ketones are naturally acidic, they cause your blood to become acidic.

Hyperchloremic acidosis

It occurs when your body excretes too much sodium bicarbonate, which is needed to balance the 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 them to leak too much acid into the blood. It happens when the kidneys cannot remove acids in the urine.

lactic acidosis

It happens when the body produces too much or too little lactic acid. Muscle cells are the main producers of lactic acid. If you exercise intensively for a long time without enough oxygen, your body will produce more lactic acid. Likewise, your body can produce more acids if you consume too many animal products.

Other factors that can cause metabolic acidosis include:

  • A high fat but low carbohydrate diet
  • overweight
  • dehydration
  • Poisoning by methanol or aspirin
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • cancer


If left untreated, metabolic acidosis can progress to the following health problems:


Your body can lose bone strength due to metabolic acidosis. As a result, it can increase your risk of breaking vital bones such as your hips or spine.

Kidney disease

Studies Exhibited metabolic acidosis may cause or exacerbate kidney disease. However, it is unclear exactly how this happens.

muscle loss

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

The HealthifyMe note

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 recover completely from metabolic acidosis, but others may not. How quickly you can address the primary cause of your metabolic acidosis will greatly affect how well you recover.

Testing and diagnosing

These tests allow your doctor to identify acidosis and determine the appropriate treatment.

Anion Gap

The 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 is a worrying 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. In addition, it helps identify different types of acidosis.

Urine tests

You should provide a urine sample if metabolic acidosis is suspected. Doctors will check the pH to see if your body is removing acids and bases correctly. It can reveal ketoacidosis, kidney problems, alcohol, aspirin and antifreeze toxicity. 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 several causes of acidosis that temporarily disappear without medical attention.


Bicarbonate, a type of carbon dioxide, is an essential part of everyone’s blood. Blood bicarbonate levels below normal (less than 22 mmol/L) indicate metabolic acidosis. Due to its alkaline nature, it can neutralize the acid. It controls the acidity of the blood. However, unless advised by your doctor, you should not take any medications containing sodium citrate or sodium bicarbonate.

Changes in diet

Fruits and vegetables are alkalizing, while meats, eggs, cheese and cereals cause the body to produce acid. As a result, increasing your consumption of fruits and vegetables can help lower your body’s acid production. Based on your stage of kidney disease, your nutritionist can advise you on how to safely increase the right types and amounts of fruits and vegetables in your diet.


Metabolic acidosis results from the buildup of acid in your blood, which decreases bicarbonate ions. The common side effects of untreated chronic metabolic acidosis are muscle breakdown and abnormal bone metabolism. Therefore, follow the recommended dietary advice and take all medications as prescribed. In addition, you can monitor your acid-base levels through routine blood tests and examinations.

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