Acidosis; The Kiss Of Death

Acidosis is an increased acidity in the blood and other body tissues. This is caused by an overproduction of acid in the blood,an excessive loss of bicarbonate from the blood (metabolic acidosis), or by a buildup of carbon dioxide in the blood which results from poor lung function or depressed
breathing . If an increase in acid overwhelms the body’s acid-base control systems, the blood will become acidic.

 As blood pH drops (becomes more acidic), the parts of the brain that regulate breathing are stimulated to produce faster and deeper breathing (respiratory compensation) which increases the amount of carbon dioxide exhaled. Blood acidity increases when people ingest substances that contain or produce acid or when the lungs do not expel enough carbon dioxide.

The kidneys also try to compensate by excreting more acid in the urine. However, both mechanisms can be overwhelmed if the body continues to produce too much acid, leading to severe acidosis and eventually heart problems and coma.

Categories of Acidosis

Acidosis is categorized depending on its primary cause as

  • Metabolic acidosis
  • Respiratory acidosis

Metabolic acidosis

Metabolic acidosis develops when the amount of acid in the body is increased through ingestion of a substance that is, or can be broken down (metabolized) to an acid—such as methanol ,ethylene glycol, or large doses of aspirin. Also,metabolic acidosis can occur as a result of abnormal metabolism. The body produces excess acid in the advanced stages of shock and in poorly controlled type 1 diabetes mellitus (diabetic ketoacidosis). Even the production of normal amounts of acid may lead to acidosis when the kidneys are not functioning normally and are therefore not able to excrete sufficient amounts of acid in the urine.

Respiratory acidosis

Respiratory acidosis develops during inadequate ventilation , that is when the lungs do not expel carbon dioxide adequately. This problem usually occur in disorders that severely affect the lungs (such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, severe pneumonia, pulmonary edema, and asthma). Respiratory acidosis can also develop when disorders of the brain or of the nerves or muscles of the chest impair breathing. In addition, people can develop respiratory acidosis when their breathing is slowed due to oversedation from opioids (narcotics) or strong drugs that induce sleep (sedatives). As a result of the slowed breathing, the level of oxygen in the blood may be low.

Causes of Acidosis 

  • Diabetic ketoacidosis (buildup of ketoacids)  
  • Drugs and substances such as acetazolamide, alcohols, and aspirin
  • Lactic acidosis (buildup of lactic acid as occurs as a result of shock or use of certain drugs)Loss of bases, such as bicarbonate, through the digestive tract due to diarrhea 
  • Severe kidney disease
  • Poisons such as ethylene glycol and methanol
  • Renal tubular acidosis (a form of kidney malfunction)
  • Lung disorders, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis, severe asthma, pneumonia, or pulmonary edema
  • Sleep-disordered breathing (for instance, sleep apnea)
  • Disorders of the nerves or muscles of the chest that impair breathing, such as Guillain-Barré syndrome or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Overdose of drugs such as alcohol, opioids, and strong sedatives

Symptoms of Acidosis

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Slightly faster and deeper breathing
  • confusion
  • .Headache
  • Drowsiness

Diagnosis of Acidosis

Blood tests 

The diagnosis of acidosis generally requires the measurement of blood pH and carbon dioxide in a sample of arterial blood, usually taken from the radial artery in the wrist. Arterial blood is used because venous blood is generally not as reliable when measuring the body’s pH status.

To learn more about the cause of the acidosis, doctors also measure the levels of bicarbonate in the blood. Additional blood tests are then done to help determine the specific cause.

Treatment of Acidosis

Treatment of acidosis is directed at reversing the cause. Doctors rarely simply give alkaline drugs, such as bicarbonate, to reverse the acidosis.

In metabolic acidosis, treatment depends primarily on the cause. For instance, treatment may be needed to control diabetes with insulin or to remove the toxic substance from the blood in cases of poisoning.

In respiratory acidosis, treatment aims at improving the function of the lungs. Drugs that open the airways (bronchodilators, such as albuterol) may help people who have lung diseases such as asthma and emphysema. Sedation due to drugs and other substances can sometimes be reversed by antidotes. People who have severely impaired breathing or lung function, may need mechanical ventilation to aid breathing.

Severe acidosis may also be treated directly when it does not respond to efforts to treat the cause. In such cases,bicarbonate may be given intravenously. However, bicarbonate provides only temporary relief and may cause harm by overloading the body with sodium and water.

Foods that can reduce the acidity in the blood


 Many vegetables can reduce the amount of acid in the blood. vegetables that have a bitter taste can alert you to the presence of alkaline substances, since these chemicals are typically bitter. The most alkaline vegetables include raw spinach,garlic, barley grass, celery. The moderately alkaline vegetables include Brussels sprouts, cabbage, asparagus, collard greens, mustard greens, dandelions, broccoli


Although so many fruits such as oranges, lemins and other citrus fruits are naturally acidic, they can actually help reduce the amount of acid in the body. This is because as they are broken down, they stimulate the production of alkaline chemicals.The Wolfe Clinic reports that apples, avocados, cherries, peaches ,watermelon, honey dew, cantaloupe and pears can neutralize acid in the body.bananas also have alkalizing effect, but they should only be consumed in moderation due to their high glycemic index.


Alkaline sources of protein can be found in nuts, pumpkin seeds,sun flower seeds, squash seeds,millet.Meats produce more acid in the blood and should be avoided in this case.


Spices which can be added to the diet to neutralize excess acidity include curry, cinnamon, ginger,mustard,garlic

Leave a Comment