What Is Metabolic Acidosis?

Metabolic acidosis is a very serious disorder that is charterized by an imbalance in the acid-base balance of the body.

What causes metabolic acidosis?

Essentially, it is the decrease in body bicarbonate (intermediate form in the deprotonation of carbonic acid) stores, which in-turn has an effect on the metabolic and endocrine systems.

Metabolic acidosis can also be caused by a reduced ability of the kidneys to excrete excess acid or an increase in acid production.

What are the problems caused by metabolic acidosis?

The endocrine system is a complicated structure through which chemical messengers create feedback loops of the hormones released by internal glands of an organism directly into the circulatory system.

This system is essential to a healthy human body.

There are numerous ways in which metabolic acidosis interrupts this system to try to achieve a more equal acid-base balance.

For example metabolic acidosis can create a negative calcium balance which causes resorption from the bones. This is the process by which osteoclasts break down the bone tissue to keep calcium levels in the blood normal.

This can lead to hypercalciuria, too much calcium in the blood which usually comes out in urine. It also means you could have a propensity to kidney stones.

Metabolic acidosis can also result in hypophosphataemia, a phosphorous deficiency that is caused by renal waste.

How do you know if you have metabolic acidosis?

The symptoms are not specific at all and can range from fatigue to headaches and dizziness. The most definitive way to know if you have it is to measure serum electrolytes and arterial blood gases to find the pH, which can be done by a doctor if you are concerned that you have it.

What are the treatments of metabolic acidosis?

This can vary greatly depending on the underlying cause of the acidosis and the severity.

If you hare found to have severe acute acidemia (meaning a pH < 7.11) bicarbonate therapy is recommended.

For those who have more chronic metabolic acidosis including Chronic Kidney Disease a long term solution is needed which can often include monitoring your diet to include base-inducing fruits and vegetables that assist with reducing the urine net acid excretion.

Generally the treatments are centred around adding base (sometimes intravenously) to counteract the increase in acid.

If you are at all concerned about metabolic acidosis, please see a doctor.

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