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Understanding Acidosis

When people hear the term acidosis, they probably have no idea what that means. If you’ve been diagnosed with it, you may not know whether to be relieved that you’re dealing with something minor or scared that you have something really horrible. Fortunately, minor acidosis isn’t that bad, but major acidosis is something you’ll need to deal with.

A Disruption in your pH Balance

Acidosis occurs when the body’s pH balance is very acidic. If your pH is just a little off, you’re probably not going to be diagnosed with acidosis, and you won’t suffer from many of its side effects. However, if your pH balance is a 5 or less, you’re definitely in acidosis and need to do something about it.

Which Acidosis Do you Have?

There are actually two different types of acidosis. One is respiratory acidosis and occurs when the lungs can’t properly remove carbon dioxide from the air you breathe. This carbon dioxide accumulates in the blood, making it more acidic. The other type, which is more common, is called metabolic acidosis. It occurs when the kidneys can’t remove enough acid from the body or when the body’s pH balance is disrupted and becomes too acidic.

Respiratory acidosis comes from having asthma, being overweight, or having had a major chest injury of some sort. It can also occur if you are an alcoholic or if you’ve misused certain medications such as sedatives. If you have a disorder that affects your nervous system, you may also be at risk of respiratory acidosis. Those who are dealing with respiratory acidosis may need to start using a CPAP machine at night to help them get the oxygen their body needs while they sleep. Using an inhaler to help open up the airways in the lungs is another option.

Metabolic acidosis can be caused by eating too many fatty foods and not enough carbohydrates, being dehydrated, getting aspirin poisoning, or going into kidney failure. It can also occur as a side effect of diabetes, a buildup of lactic acid, or having very low sodium bicarbonate levels. If you’ve been diagnosis with metabolic acidosis, your doctor may give you a sodium bicarbonate supplement to help make your pH more alkaline. This is basically baking soda. You can either take this supplement via mouth, or, if your acidosis is really bad, your doctor may put you on an IV for an hour or so.


What Happens during Acidosis?

If your body has gone into acidosis, you may get really tired quickly and always feel sleepy. You may find that it’s hard to breathe or that you feel confused very easily. You may also have a headache, find that you’re not really hungry at all, or that your breath has a weird fruity smell.

What to Do

In addition to the measures mentioned above, there are some other ways of treating acidosis. Some types of acidosis need to be dealt with at their source. Diabetic acidosis, for example, can be treated by getting the underlying cause (diabetes) under control. If you have hypercloremic acidosis, you may need to take baking sodium supplements every day to keep it under control. If you have lactic acidosis, you may need to take antibiotics or get fluids via an IV, depending on the cause.

Preventing acidosis largely has to do with diet and certain habits. Smoking is one of the worst things you can do, and it can quickly lead to respiratory acidosis. If you’re on sedatives and have a habit of drinking alcohol while taking them, you are also at risk of acidosis. Overall, try to eat healthily, exercise, and always keep hydrated.

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These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, or cure any diseases.