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Lactic acidosis

Definition

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

Causes

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

A common medicine used to treat diabetes called metformin can also cause lactic acidosis. If you take this medicine, have your electrolyte levels checked 1 to 2 weeks after starting it.

Symptoms

Symptoms may include:

  • Nausea
  • Weakness

Exams and Tests

Tests may include a blood test to check electrolyte levels

Treatment

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

References

Seifter JL. Acid-base disorders. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap120.

Strayer RJ. Acid-base disorders. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 99.


Review Date: 11/2/2014
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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