Acidosis is a critical health condition where lungs and kidneys fail to maintain pH balance, increasing the acidic levels in the body fluids. Human body performs various functions and as a result it produces acid but when lungs, kidney fail to function properly, it can lead to faster built-up of acid in the blood.
The acid accumulation in the body is determined by measuring its pH and it should be around 7.4. A lower pH of 7.35 or lower is an indication that blood has turned acidic and anything higher 7.45 means that the blood is base. Though there may not be much difference between 7.35 to 7.45, acidosis can cause irreversible damage to the body and can turn fatal.
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Types of Acidosis:
Acidosis is of two types: Respiratory and Metabolic Acidosis and it depends upon the primary reason on why the pH levels got altered.
Respiratory acidosis is a result of excessive carbondioxide in the body caused either due to asthma, chest injury, muscle weakness, obesity, neurological disorders, or obesity etc.
Metabolic acidosis happens in kidneys when they find it hard to eliminate excess acid. Metabolic acidosis is of four types:
It happens in patients with poor diabetes control as ketones accumulate in the body, increasing acidic content often caused due to lack of insulin.
This type of acidosis is a result of loss of sodium bicarbonate. While blood pH remains neutral, this is a result of severe diarrhea and vomitting.
Excessive lactic acid in the blood can be a result of heart failure, seizures, cancer, liver failure, hyperglycemia.
Renal Tubular Acidosis:
When kidneys fail to flush out acid, it leads to renal tubular acidosis turning it acidic.
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What Causes Acidosis:
People who are crash diets like high protein-low carbs, kidney failure, obesity, heart failure, dehydration, diabetes are at the risk of acidosis.
Symptoms of Acidosis:
Both respiratory acidosis and metabolic acidosis present with common symptoms like:
Shortness of breath
Increased heart rate
Confusion and Disorientation
Acidosis if detected early is treatable. Any amount of delay can cause severe complications. It is diagnosed by running a battery of blood tests where the amount of oxygen and carbondioxide is assessed. A kidney function test reveals the amount of calcium, blood sugars, electrolytes. In case of suspected metabolic acidosis, urine test will reveal if acid and bases were being eliminated properly. In few cases, doctors may recommend CT- Lungs and an X-ray to know about the functioning of lungs.
The treatment plan for respiratory acidosis and metabolic acidosis differs and the protocol may change depending on the functioning of other vital organs.
In case of respiratory acidosis, the patient may require continuous oxygen support or the assistance of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) to clear the blocked airways and aid the weakened muscles.
The doctor may chart out treatment plan depending upon the type of metabolic acidosis. In case of hyperchloremic acidosis, the patient would require oral sodium bicarbonate, kidney failure may require sodium citrate and dialysis, diabetic acidosis is treated with insulin and IV fluids to restore pH balance while lactic acidosis requires IV fluids, antibiotics and oxygen support.