Acidosis symptoms

Written by izzy mcphee
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Acidosis symptoms
Acidosis can be deadly if left untreated. (Image by, courtesy of Andrew Mason)

Acidosis is an abnormally high concentration of acid in the blood and body tissues. It is a dangerous condition that when left untreated can cause the death of the patient.


A person with acidosis can exhibit symptoms such as nausea, drowsiness, vomiting and even breath that smells of acetone (as in nail-polish remover). Additional symptoms include shortness of breath, confusion, lethargy, dry skin, dry mouth, flushed face, frequent urination, abdominal pain, decreased appetite and headache.


There are several types of acidosis. The two major categories are acute respiratory acidosis and metabolic acidosis. Respiratory acidosis is caused by an excess of carbon dioxide usually resulting from a decrease in breathing. Metabolic acidosis has many forms, including diabetic ketoacidosis, hyperchloremic acidosis and lactic acidosis.


The treatment for respiratory acidosis can include oxygen therapy, bronchodilators, respiratory stimulants, drug therapy and acetazolamide. Treating metabolic acidosis depends on the type a patient has. In the case of diabetic ketoacidosis the treatments can be fluid- and electrolyte-replacement, and insulin therapy. After indentifying the primary illness, treatments for lactic acidosis can include intravenous saline, oxygen and antibiotics.

Who Can Get Acidosis?

Anyone who eats an excess amount of protein without carbohydrates as well as diabetics off their insulin can suffer from acidosis. Ketoacidosis can usually be prevented when the patient follows a healthy insulin routine. Even usually healthy people can suffer from acidosis.

When to See a Doctor

Anytime acidosis is suspected, you should contact your doctor. If allowed to go untreated for too long, acidosis can be a deadly illness. The sooner the underlying cause is identified and treatment for the acidosis is started, the better the prognosis usually is.

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