Facts about metabolic acidosis: Causes and prevention

metabolic acidosisNaturally our body contains acid, but when we build up too much – or can’t get rid of the acid – this condition is known as metabolic acidosis. Metabolic acidosis can affect anyone, at any age, and can range from mild symptoms to a life-threatening condition.

There a few different types of metabolic acidosis. These include: diabetic, hyperchloremic, and lactic.


Diabetic acidosis: Ketone bodies – an acidic substance – forms in the body. This is most common in people with Type 1 diabetes which is not controlled.

Hyperchloremic acidosis: Sodium bicarbonate is severely reduced. This can occur with diarrhea.

Lactic acidosis: This is caused by a build-up of lactic acid. Lactic acid can form due to alcohol consumption, cancer, intense exercise, liver failure and medication.

Causes and symptoms of metabolic acidosis

Depending on the type of metabolic acidosis you suffer from, as listed above, the causes will vary. But there are other potential causes of metabolic acidosis that include:

  • Consuming a toxic substance that increases acid
  • Kidney failure
  • Cancer
  • Anemia
  • Heart failure
  • Malnutrition
  • Infection of the whole body

Chances are, if you have metabolic acidocis, it might be the symptom of another medical condition. This can make it hard to determine if you have it. That is why it’s important to know the symptoms so that you can differentiate it from other conditions such as diabetes or anemia. Symptoms of metabolic acidosis are:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Increase in breathing

Treatment and prevention of metabolic acidosis

Treatment for metabolic acidosis aims to treat the underlining cause. For example, if someone has uncontrolled Type 1 diabetes, treating the diabetes will likely reduce or eliminate the metabolic acidosis. Similarly, if metabolic acidosis is caused by lactic acid build-up, or even kidney failure, treating those causes will in turn help treat metabolic acidosis.

This means the key to preventing metabolic acidosis is to prevent illness, or underlying conditions in general. Healthy living habits such as eating well, not smoking, limiting alcohol and exercise, are all effective means of illness prevention. In the case of chronic illnesses, or say Type 1 diabetes, proper management can prevent metabolic acidosis.

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