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Lactic acidosis symptoms

Updated February 21, 2019

Lactic acidosis is an uncommon condition that happens when the body holds onto more lactic acid than it can handle. The cells in the body normally work by processing glucose and fat in order to use energy. However, a byproduct of this process is lactic acid. If there are problems within the mitochondria in the cells---the parts responsible for this processing task---lactic acid might build up and reduce the oxygen levels in the body. This reduced oxygen level can produce some nasty symptoms. Some causes of lactic acidosis include kidney failure, respiratory failure, some medications including those used to treat AIDS and even vigorous exercise. In order to be on the alert for this condition, it's important to have a good grasp of the warning signs and symptoms associated with it.

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Upset Stomach

One of the first symptoms you'll notice if you develop lactic acidosis is an upset stomach. This can include nausea and vomiting as well as gas, bloating and pain in the abdomen. You might also experience a loss of appetite if your symptoms are severe.


People suffering from lactic acidosis might also deal with extreme fatigue. This might present itself as a general lack of interest in doing anything or as feelings of weakness or sleepiness.

Breathing Problems

In more serious cases of lactic acidosis, breathing problems can develop, especially if the body is severely deprived of oxygen or if respiratory issues such as lung diseases or carbon monoxide poisoning are the root cause of the lactic acidosis.

Swollen Liver

In some cases, liver symptoms can present in people with lactic acidosis. Specifically, the liver might become swollen and tender when pressed on. Blood tests might show that your liver enzymes are very high.

Loss of Kidney Function

Those with lactic acidosis might experience a loss of kidney function to some degree. This can present as tiredness, increased urinary frequency and headaches. However, some people might not even realise they have this problem until they have blood tests performed.

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About the Author

Brenda Barron is a writer, editor and researcher based in Southern California. She has worked as a writer since 2004, with work appearing in online and print publications such as BabyZone, "Cat Fancy" and "ePregnancy." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from California State University, Long Beach.

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