Lactic Acidosis

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Lactic acidosis is a medical condition when a buildup of lactate is found in your body due to accumulating metabolic waste resulting from a lack of available oxygen to the working muscles.

The levels of lactic acid in your body can increase when you exercise excessively or when you have certain health conditions.

When you do light exercise, your body only produces small amounts of lactic acid and helps the body absorb energy. However, when the intensity of exercise increases, your body produces more lactic acid. There may also be a risk of lactate accumulation in your blood and muscles. In medical science, when you overproduce or underutilize lactic acid, the condition is known as lactic acidosis.

There are two types of lactic acid, namely L-lactate and D-lactate.

However, most lactic acidosis is caused by high levels of L-lactate. People with lactic acidosis experience acid buildup which causes pH level imbalances.

Lactic acid buildup can occur when there is insufficient oxygen in your muscles to break down glucose and glycogen. This might increase your heart rate and cause shortness of breath.

Symptoms of Lactic Acidosis

High levels of lactic acid may cause numerous disorders — some are even life-threatening. You should watch out for symptoms of lactic acidosis.  

If you experience any of these symptoms, consult your doctor immediately to help you identify the cause. The following are some symptoms of lactic acidosis that you should be aware of, such as: 

  • Confusion.
  • Shortness of breath — characterized by shallow, rapid breaths.
  • Jaundice — characterized by yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes.
  • Fruity odours on your breath — this indicates the possibility of ketoacidosis, which is a serious complication of diabetes due to the high levels of blood acids in your body.  

There are also other symptoms that indicate high levels of lactic acid in your body, such as:

  • Headache.
  • Muscle cramps or pain.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Discomfort.
  • Rapid heart rate 
  • Persistent stomach pain or diarrhea.
  • Weakness or extreme fatigue 

Causes of Lactic Acidosis 

The following are several medical conditions that cause higher levels of lactic acid in your body, namely:

  • HIV, medicines consumed by HIV sufferers such as nucleoside reverse, can increase lactic acid levels due to liver damage.
  • Sepsis, a severe complication due to a viral or bacterial infection that causes low oxygen levels
  • Cancer, cancer cells can increase lactic acid quickly as you lose weight and suffer from progressive disease.
  • Acetaminophen, regular use of acetaminophen can cause lactic acidosis, even when taken in the appropriate dose.
  • Heart disease, such as heart failure, which can decrease your blood and oxygen flow throughout the body.
  • Alcohol addiction, excessive consumption of alcohol for a long period of time can lead to lactic acidosis and a buildup of acids or ketones (alcoholic ketoacidosis).
  • Short bowel syndrome, people with short bowel syndrome may experience a buildup of D-lactic acid that cause small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.

Purposes of Lactic Acid Test

There is a series of blood tests that you can do to control the levels of lactic acid in your body, 

Lactic acid test is a test to measure lactic acid levels. This test can also be used to assess adequacy of oxygen in your body, and identify the cause of high acid levels in your blood (low pH).

Lactic acid is produced in your red blood and muscle cells which are formed when your body breaks down food into energy. High levels of lactic acid can cause lactic acidosis — which can be a serious condition. Therefore, a lactic acid test will make it easier for your doctor to detect the presence of lactic acidosis before it leads to serious complications.

There are also several other purposes of the lactic acid level test, such as:

  • Identifying the adequate levels of oxygen in your body
  • Identifying the causes of high pH or acidity in your body.
  • Identifying the cause of meningitis — an inflammation (swelling) of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord
  • Diagnosing a sepsis disorder — a serious viral or bacterial infection as it can lead to complications.

Cost Estimation for Lactic Acid Test

The cost for a lactic acid test procedure may vary — depending on your choice of hospital or clinical laboratory.

For more details regarding the cost estimation for a lactic acid test, contact Smarter Health.

Pre-Lactic Acid Test 

To prepare for a lactic acid test, you may do the following:

  • Avoid eating or drinking for 8 to 10 hours before the test.
  • Avoid exercising several hours before the test, as these activities can affect the test results
  • Remember not to clench your fists while during blood sampling for the lactic acid test 

During Lactic Acid Test

There are two methods of how your blood sample is taken: from a vein and from an artery.

Both have similar procedures, but the blood sampling from an artery is more painful. 

In general, the hospital or clinical laboratory may recommend a lactic acid test with a blood sample from an artery as it has higher oxygen levels.

The following are steps for blood sampling during a lactic acid test:

  • Wrap an elastic band around your upper arm to stop the flow of blood. This makes the veins below the band larger so it is easier to put a needle into the vein. An elastic band may not be used for a lactic acid test because a band around the arm muscle may cause a false increase in lactic acid.
  • Clean the needle site with alcohol.
  • Put the needle into the vein. More than one needle stick may be needed.
  • Attach a tube to the needle to fill it with blood.
  • Remove the band from your arm when enough blood is collected.
  • Put a gauze pad or cotton ball over the needle site as the needle is removed.
  • Put pressure on the site and then put on a bandage.

Post-Lactic Acid Test

You may feel nothing at all from the needle, or you may feel a quick sting or pinch. This is normal as long as there is no heavy bleeding afterwards.

If you experience bleeding, immediately tell your doctor or other medical personnel to get proper treatment. 

Understanding Your Lactic Acid Test Result

To understand your lactic acid test result, you can ask your doctor or other medical personnel to help. The following is a brief explanation about lactic acid test results that you need to know:

  • Blood sample from a vein: 0.5 to 2.2 mEq / L or mmol / L.
  • Blood sample from an artery: 0.5 to 1.6 mEq / L or mmol / L.

The numbers ​​listed above are only as a guide, as each hospital or clinical laboratory has different references.

If the test results show high levels of lactic acid in the body, you may be recommended to do other tests. 

Side Effects of Lactic Acid Test

It is very unlikely that you might have complications after the test. However, you still have to be careful about the side effects that may occur, such as:

  • A small bruise at the punctured site
  • In rare cases, the blood vessels may become swollen after taking a blood sample. To treat swollen blood vessels, use warm water to compress the punctured site for a few days or consult your doctor.

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