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Metabolic Acidosis

Acid-base balance is a state of equilibrium between acidity and alkalinity of the body fluids

The positively charged hydrogen ion (H+) is the active constituent of all acids.


Most of the body's metabolic processes produce acids, but a somewhat alkaline body fluid (pH 7.35-7.45) is required for cellular health and activities.

Severe metabolic acidosis may lead to shock or death. In some situations, metabolic acidosis can be a mild, chronic condition.

Although the body can tolerate and compensate for slight deviations in acidity and alkalinity, if the pH drops below 7.30, the potentially serious condition of acidosis exists.

Conditions where metabolic acidosis can occur include chronic alcoholism, malnutrition, and diabetic ketoacidosis.

Consuming a diet low in carbohydrates and high in fats can also produce metabolic acidosis. The disorder may also be a symptom of another condition like kidney failure, liver failure, or severe diarrhea.

The build up of lactic acid in the blood due to such conditions as heart failure, shock, or cancer, induces metabolic acidosis.

Some poisonings and overdoses (aspirin, methanol, or ethylene glycol) also produce symptoms of metabolic acidosis.

In mild cases of metabolic acidosis, symptoms include headache, lack of energy, and sleepiness. Breathing may become fast and shallow. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and loss of appetite are also associated with metabolic acidosis.

Diabetic patients with symptoms of metabolic acidosis may also have breath that smells fruity. The patient may lose consciousness or become disoriented. Severe cases can produce coma and death.


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