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Lactic acidosis

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-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 118.

Strayer RJ. Acid-base disorders. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 124.

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Review Date 12/10/2016

Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.