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Lactic Acidosis

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jun 6, 2022.

What is lactic acidosis and what causes it?

Lactic acidosis is the buildup of lactic acid in your blood. Lactic acid is a substance that can build up in your body if you are not getting enough oxygen. It can also occur if you have a condition that causes an increased need for oxygen. The following may cause lactic acidosis:

  • Shock from trauma or severe blood loss
  • Sepsis (a serious condition that occurs when the body overreacts to an infection)
  • Seizures
  • Heart attack or heart failure
  • Severe lung disease
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Cancer or AIDS
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis
  • Certain medicines such as metformin (diabetes medicine) or some HIV medicines
  • Intense exercise

What are the signs and symptoms of lactic acidosis?

  • Muscular weakness
  • Breathing faster than normal
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Coma

How is lactic acidosis diagnosed and treated?

Lactic acidosis is diagnosed with a blood test. The blood test measures the amount of lactate in your blood. Treatment depends on the cause of your lactic acidosis. The condition that caused lactic acidosis will need to be treated.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • Your symptoms return.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.