Acidosis refers to an abnormal increase in the acidity (excessively low pH) of the body fluids, resulting from excess acids or decrease in bicarbonates. It is classified into respiratory acidosis, and metabolic acidosis, which is further categorized into lactic acidosis, diabetic acidosis, and hyperchloremic acidosis. The symptoms of each of these types have been provided below.
Inability of the lungs to expel carbon dioxide leads to its accumulation in the body fluids, thereby causing respiratory acidosis. This leads to confusion, fatigue, shortness of breath, lethargy, and sleepiness. Persistent drowsiness may progress to stupor or coma. To confirm the diagnosis, chest X rays, pulmonary function tests, and assessment of arterial blood gas, are recommended.
Alterations in the metabolic processes of the body may lead to an excess amount of acids in the body. The symptoms of different types of metabolic acidosis have been provided below.
Lactic acidosis is characterized by a buildup of lactic acid in the body fluids and tissues, due to liver failure, hypoglycemia, cancer, prolonged exercise, and certain medications. The symptoms manifested are nausea, vomiting, lethargy, severe anemia, low blood pressure, abnormal breathing, abdominal pain, and irregular heartbeat. The condition is confirmed by assessing the electrolyte levels in blood.
Diabetic acidosis, also known as diabetic ketoacidosis, arises due to an excessive fat metabolism followed by a buildup of ketone bodies. The symptoms include dry skin and mouth, rapid breathing, flushed face, headache, poor appetite, stomach ache, fruity odor of breath, nausea, vomiting, and muscle aches. In certain cases individuals may experience frequent urination, stupor, and difficulty in breathing while lying down.
Hyperchloremic acidosis is the result of excessive loss of sodium bicarbonate from the body. This leads to constriction of blood vessels in the kidneys, and altered glomerular filtration rate. Symptoms indicating altered renal function may be observed.
The precise treatment option depends on the underlying etiology. In respiratory acidosis, the treatment focuses on improving lung function. People suffering from lung diseases may be prescribed with medications to clear the blocked airways. Other than treating the underlying cause, mild cases of acidosis may be treated directly with the administration of oral or intravenous fluids. Symptomatic treatments that focus on restoring the electrolyte balance and pH balance of the body fluids, are recommended. In case of any symptoms suggestive of acidosis, it is advisable to consult the appropriate professional, and undergo the necessary diagnostic tests.