Acidosis – Symptoms, causes and risk factors


Acidosis is a condition in which your body fluids have too much acid. When your lungs and kidneys cannot keep your body’s pH in balance, then this leads to acidosis. Many processes which are happening in your body are producing acid. It is usual case your kidneys and lungs to compensate for slight pH imbalances but if you have problems with these organs, then this condition can lead to excess acid in your body. Doctors are measuring the acidity of our blood when they are determining our pH balance. When you have lower pH, then this means that your blood is more acidic while when you have higher pH, then this means that your blood is more basic. 7.4 is the number in which the pH of your blood should be. When you have pH that is 7.35 or lower, then this is a condition which is known as acidosis. Maybe, you think that this is not serious condition because it looks slightly but if this is your opinion, then you are wrong because in the medicine these small differences can mean that you have serious condition. You should never mix sedatives with alcohol because they can increase your risk of getting acidosis [1]. Also you should quit smoking because it can damage your lungs which mean that your breathing will not be so effective. You should have normal weight because obesity can make you harder to breathe which means it will increase your chances of getting acidosis.

Symptoms of acidosis

There are many common symptoms between metabolic and respiratory acidic pH. Here are the common symptoms of respiratory acidic pH:

  • Headache
  • Sleepiness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion
  • Becoming tired easily
  • Fatigue or drowsiness

Here are the common symptoms of metabolic acidosis:

  • Breath that smells fruity, which is a sign of diabetic acidosis (ketoacidosis)
  • Increased heart rate
  • Jaundice
  • Lack of appetite
  • Sleepiness
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Rapid and shallow breathing

If you feel some of the symptoms of metabolic or respiratory acidic pH, then you must go to your doctor. It is very important for your fast recovery to be diagnosed in the early stage. Your doctor will make a series of blood tests. Also he or she will check your lungs to discover if they are healthy.

Causes of acidosis: There are two types of acidosis which are known as respiratory acidic pH and metabolic acidic pH.

  1. Respiratory acidosis: When there is too much build up of CO2 in your body, then this leads to respiratory acidosis. While you breathe, your lungs are removing the CO2. But also there are some cases when your body cannot remove the CO2 out from it.  [2] This situation can happen because of:
  • Deformed chest structure
  • Problems with the nervous system
  • Muscle weakness in the chest
  • Overuse of alcohol
  • Sedative misuse
  • Obesity, which can make breathing difficult
  • Injury to the chest
  • Chronic airway conditions, like asthmaacidosis
  1. Metabolic acidosis: This kind of acidosis starts in your kidneys, not in your lungs. When they get rid of too much base or when they cannot eliminate enough acid, then this leads to metabolic acidosis. [3] There are 3 major forms of this condition:
  • Lactic acidosis: This condition is happening when you have too much lactic acid in your body. There are many factors which can lead to buildup of lactic acid such as low blood sugar, prolonged lack of oxygen, liver failure, seizures, heart failure and chronic alcohol use. Also there are some cases when you are doing prolonged exercise and then this leads to lactic acid buildup.
  • Diabetic acidosis: People who are poorly controlling the diabetes are having chances to get diabetic acidosis. When your body lacks enough amount of insulin, then the ketones build up in your body and also they acidify your blood.
  • Hyperchloremic acidosis: When you have a loss of sodium bicarbonate, then this leads to hyperchloremic acidosis. This base is keeping your blood neutral. Vomiting and diarrhea can lead to this kind of acidosis.

Risk factors: There are some factors that can increase your risk of getting acidosis such as

  • Diabetes [4]
  • Aspirin or methanol poisoning
  • Dehydration
  • Obesity [5]
  • Kidney failure
  • A high – fat diet that’s low in carbohydrates [6]


[1] Hendler RA, Ramchandani VA, Gilman J, Hommer DW. Stimulant and sedative effects of alcohol. Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences. 2013;13:489-509.

[2] Gonzalez SB, Menga G, Raimondi GA, et al. Secondary response to chronic respiratory acidosis in humans: A prospective study. Kidney International Reports. 2018;3(5):1163-70.

[3] Carnauba RA, Baptistella AB, Paschoal V, Hübscher GH. Diet-induced low-grade metabolic acidosis and clinical outcomes: A review. Nutrients. 2017;9(6):538.

[4] Welch BJ, Zib I. Case Study: Diabetic ketoacidosis in type 2 diabetes: “Look under the sheets”. Clinical Diabetes. 2004;22(4):198-200.

[5] Winfield RD, Delano MJ, Lottenberg L, et al. Traditional resuscitative practices fail to resolve metabolic acidosis in morbidly obese patients following severe blunt tauma. Journal of Trauma. 2010;68(2):317–30.

[6] Arsyad A, Idris I, Rasyid AA, et al. Long-term ketogenic diet induces metabolic acidosis, anemia, and oxidative stress in healthy Wistar rats. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism. 2020.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.