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Lactic acidosis

Definition

Lactic acidosis is when lactic acid builds ups in the bloodstream faster than it can be removed. Lactic acid is produced when oxygen levels in the body drop.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The most common cause of lactic acidosis is intense exercise. However, it can also be caused by certain diseases, such as:

Metformin, a common medicine used to treat diabetes, can also cause lactic acidosis. People taking this medicine should have their electrolyte levels checked 1 - 2 weeks after starting it.

Symptoms

  • Nausea
  • Weakness

Signs and tests

  • Blood tests to check electrolyte levels

Treatment

The main treatment for lactic acidosis is to correct the medical problem that causes the condition.

References

Oh MS. Evaluation of renal function, water, electrolytes and acid-base balance. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management of Laboratory Methods. 21st ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2006: chap 14.

Collings JL. Acid-base disorders. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa:Mosby Elsevier;2009:chap 122.


Review Date: 10/28/2010
Reviewed By: Linda Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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