Acidosis - metabolic
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Acidosis - metabolic


Metabolic acidosis is a disturbance in the body's acid-base balance. This causes excessive acidity of the blood.

Alternative Names

Acidosis - metabolic


Metabolic acidosis can occur as a result of many different conditions such as kidney failure, diabetic ketoacidosis, and shock.

Swallowing toxic substances such as antifreeze or excessive amounts of aspirin can also lead to metabolic acidosis.

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


Most symptoms are caused by the disease or condition that is causing the metabolic acidosis. Metabolic acidosis itself usually causes rapid breathing. Confusion or lethargy may also occur.

Exams and Tests

Blood tests to diagnose metabolic acidosis may include:

  • An arterial blood gas to assess the severity of the metabolic acidosis
  • A metabolic panel to reveal the cause and severity of the metabolic acidosis
  • A complete blood count (CBC) to assess possible causes of metabolic acidosis


Treatment is aimed at the underlying condition. In certain circumstances, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) may be given to improve the acidity of the blood.

Outlook (Prognosis)

The prognosis of metabolic acidosis depends on the underlying disease.

Possible Complications

When very severe, metabolic acidosis can lead to shock or death.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Seek medical treatment if symptoms of any disease that causes metabolic acidosis appear.


Keeping Type 1 diabetes under control may avoid many cases of metabolic acidosis.

Judge BS. Metabolic Acidosis: Differentiating the Causes in the Poisoned Patient. Med Clin North Am. 2005 Nov; 89(6); 1107-1124.

Kraut JA. Metabolic acidosis of CKD: diagnosis, clinical characteristics, and treatment. Am J Kidney Dis. 2005; 45(6): 978-93.

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