One of the important properties of blood is its degree of acidity or alkalinity. The acidity or alkalinity of any solution, including blood is indicated on the pH scale. pH scale, ranges from 0-14. A lower pH means that your blood is more acidic and higher pH means that your blood is more basic.

The body uses different mechanisms to control the blood’s acid-base balance.


The kidneys are able to affect blood pH by excreting excess acid or bases. The kidneys have some ability to alter the amount of acid or base that is excreted, but because the kidneys make these adjustments more slowly than the lungs do, this compensation generally takes several days.

  • Acidosis occurs when your kidneys and lungs can’t keep your body’s pH balance.
  • When your body fluid contains too much acid, it’s known as acidosis.
  • The pH of your blood should be around 7.4, acidosis occurs when blood pH falls below 7.35.


There are two types of acidosis, each with various causes.

Respiratory acidosis:

Respiratory acidosis occurs when too much CO2 builds up in the body. Normally, the lungs remove CO2 while you breathe. However, sometimes your body can’t get rid of enough CO2. This may happen due to:

  • Chronic airway conditions, like asthma.
  • Injury to the chest.
  • Obesity, which can make breathing difficult.
  • Sedative misuse.
  • Overuse of alcohol
  • Muscle weakness in the chest.
  • Problems with the nervous system.
  • Deformed chest structure

Metabolic acidosis:

Metabolic acidosis starts in the kidneys instead of the lungs. It occurs when they can’t eliminate enough acid or when they get rid of too much base. There are four major forms of metabolic acidosis:

Diabetic acidosis occurs in people with diabetes that’s poorly controlled. If your body lacks enough insulin, ketenes build up in your body and acidify your blood.

Hyperchloremic acidosis results from a loss of sodium bicarbonate. This base helps to keep the blood neutral. Both diarrhea and vomiting can cause this type of acidosis.

Lactic acidosis occurs when there’s too much lactic acid in your body. Causes can include chronic alcohol use, heart failure, cancer, seizures, liver failure, prolonged lack of oxygen, and low blood sugar. Even prolonged exercise can lead to lactic acid buildup.

Renal tubular acidosis occurs when the kidneys are unable to excrete acids into the urine. This causes the blood to become acidic.


Both respiratory and metabolic acidosis share many symptoms. However, the symptoms of acidosis vary based on its cause.

Respiratory acidosis

some of the common symptoms of respiratory acidosis include the following:

  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Becoming tired easily
  • Confusion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sleepiness
  • Headache

Metabolic acidosis

some of the common symptoms of metabolic acidosis include the following:

  • Rapid and shallow breathing
  • Confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Sleepiness
  • Lack of appetite
  • Jaundice
  • Increased heart rate
  • Breath that smells fruity, which is a sign of diabetic acidosis (ketoacidosis)


Without prompt treatment, acidosis may lead to the following health complications:

  • Kidney stones
  • Chronic kidney problems
  • Kidney failure
  • Bone disease
  • Delayed growth


you can’t completely prevent acidosis. However, there are some things you can do to lower your risk.

Respiratory acidosis

you can do the following to reduce your risk of respiratory acidosis:

  • Take sedatives as prescribed and never mix them with alcohol.
  • Stop smoking. Smoking can damage your lungs and make breathing less effective.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity can make it harder for you to breathe.

Metabolic acidosis

you can do the following to reduce your risk of metabolic acidosis:

  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water and other fluids.
  • Keep control of your diabetes. If you manage your blood sugar levels well, you can avoid ketoacidosis.
  • Stop drinking alcohol. Chronic drinking can increase the buildup of lactic acid.

If you think that you have acidosis consult a doctor. Doctors usually need to know what is causing your acidosis to determine how to treat it. However, some treatments can be used for any type of acidosis. For example, your doctor may give you sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to raise the pH of your blood. This can be done either by mouth or in an intravenous (IV) drip. The treatment for other types of acidosis can involve treating their cause.