By Apollo 24/7, Published on - 25 June 2021
The human body contains both acidic and alkaline fluids. Blood plasma, gastric juice, bile, saliva, synovial fluid, etc. are some of the examples of fluids in the human body. These fluids can be intracellular and extracellular and help in the transport of nutrients while expelling waste from the human cells. The body functions best when the level of acid and bases is in equilibrium, known as acid-base balance or pH balance. The kidneys and lungs play a vital role in maintaining this balance.
Both acidity and alkalinity are measured using a pH scale that ranges from 0 to 14, where 0 indicates strongly acidic while 14 indicates strongly basic or alkaline. The human blood is alkaline as its pH ranges from 7.35 to 7.45 while the pH of digestive acids ranges from 1 to 3. Our body monitors the pH closely to maintain homeostasis. Sometimes, excess acid can get accumulated in the blood, resulting in acidosis and if not treated, can result in shock, organ damage, and fatal outcomes.
Most processes in the human body produce acid but most of the time, the lungs and kidneys can maintain the pH balance. However, when there is an issue with any of these organs, the balance can be disrupted and cause acidosis. Acidosis can be divided into two categories:
Metabolic acidosis originates in the kidneys and occurs when there is too much acid build-up in the body that can happen due to:
Respiratory acidosis occurs when the lungs fail to expel excess carbon dioxide from the body. It can occur due to diseases that severely affect the lungs and impair breathing. Some of these diseases include:
People may also develop respiratory acidosis due to over-sedation caused due to opioids, alcohol or sedatives as they tend to slow down breathing. Prolonged slow breathing can reduce the levels of oxygen in the blood and lead to complications.
Symptoms of metabolic acidosis include:
Symptoms of respiratory acidosis include:
The presence of these symptoms alone does not conclude acidosis. To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor may recommend some blood tests to check the pH and levels of bicarbonate.
Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a serious consequence of diabetes marked by the excessive deposition of ketone in the body, which can result in a coma or even death. Ketones are produced by the cells of the body in the absence of enough glucose. DKA is a medical emergency as high levels of ketone can make the blood acidic resulting in severe consequences. The signs of DKA include:
Acidosis cannot be prevented completely, but certain measures can help reduce the risk of developing the condition which include:
The management of acidosis aims at treating the cause and balancing the acid-base levels in the body. The treatment of acidosis involves:
In severe cases of acidosis, sodium bicarbonate can be administered through the veins (intravenously). However, this treatment only provides temporary relief and may cause an overload of sodium and water in the body.
Acidosis is a condition characterized by excess acid accumulation in the blood either due to overproduction of acid, excessive loss of bicarbonate or build-up of carbon dioxide in the blood. It is important to diagnose acidosis at the early stages as it can cause severe damage to vital organs. People experiencing any symptoms of acidosis must consult their doctor for further investigation and treatment.
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