The acid loading test (pH) measures the ability of the kidneys to send acid to the urine when there is too much acid in the blood. This test involves both a blood test and urine test.
How to Prepare for the Test
Your health care provider will tell you to take ammonium chloride capsules by mouth for 3 days before the test.
How the Test will Feel
When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain. Others feel only a prick or stinging. Afterward, there may be some throbbing or slight bruising. This soon goes away.
The urine test involves only normal urination, and there is no discomfort.
Why the Test is Performed
This test is done to see how well your kidneys control the body's acid-base balance.
Urine with a pH less than 5.3 is normal.
Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or test different samples. Talk to your provider about the meaning of your specific test results.
What Abnormal Results Mean
The most common disorder associated with an abnormal result is renal tubular acidosis.
There are no risks with providing a urine sample.
There is little risk involved with having your blood taken. Veins and arteries vary in size from one person to another and from one side of the body to the other. Taking blood from some people may be more difficult than from others.
Other risks associated with having blood drawn are slight, but may include:
- Excessive bleeding
- Fainting or feeling lightheaded
- Multiple punctures to locate veins
- Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
- Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)
Renal tubular acidosis - acid loading test
Dixon BP. Renal tubular acidosis. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 547.
Yaqoob MM, McCafferty K. Water balance, fluids and electrolytes. In: Feather A, Randall D, Waterhouse M, eds. Kumar and Clarke's Clinical Medicine. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 9.
Review Date 10/31/2021
Updated by: Walead Latif, MD, Nephrologist and Clinical Associate Professor, Rutgers Medical School, Newark, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.