The causes of acidosis are manifold. As a rough orientation, again the classification into problems with breathing and causes, which lie in the metabolism of our body, is used. In lung diseases that lead to shallower, shallower breathing or to a reduced gas exchange in the lungs, a so-called respiratory acidosis develops.
This not only increases the acidity of our blood, but there is also a lack of oxygen due to reduced breathing. This can be caused by acute or chronic diseases. Acute illnesses that can accompany acidosis include, for example, pneumonia, acute lung failure or pulmonary embolism.
Even in the case of heart failure (cardiac insufficiency), breathing can be impeded by the squeezing of water from the blood vessels into the lungs. Inhalation of toxic gases can attack the lung tissue and result in a lack of gas exchange with hyperacidity of the blood. Another group of causes of respiration-related acidosis are diseases of the muscles or nerves that supply the respiratory muscles and rib fractures where the pain makes breathing less deep.
The intake of opiates such as heroin, sedatives or large quantities of alcohol can also slow down breathing due to changes in the brain and thus also lead to acidosis. Chronic lung diseases are very common causes of respiration-related acidosis. This can often be caused by a “smoker’s lung” (COPD, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), especially when lung function deteriorates due to an additional infection.
A severe asthma attack can also be accompanied by acidosis. In general, acidosis can develop in any chronic lung disease. The second large group are metabolic diseases (metabolic acidosis).
Here, acidosis can occur due to a lack of excretion or the increased absorption of acids. However, increased acids can also be produced during metabolic processes in the body. In case of an unrecognized or not well adjusted sugar disease (diabetes), as well as in case of chronic alcohol dependency and prolonged starvation, the body tries to produce other energy reserves.
This produces so-called ketone bodies, which lead to hyperacidity of the body. In all diseases that lead to a lack of oxygen or increased energy consumption, the body produces more lactic acid (lactate). This is also known from athletes, where the lactic acid produced is measured during a fitness test.
These diseases include anaemia, shock, various poisonings, cramps and heat stroke. In severe liver and kidney diseases, the lactic acid cannot be excreted sufficiently. This is a common problem, especially in chronic kidney failure.
Acidosis can also be attributed to renal failure. The kidney is an important metabolic organ which is responsible for the excretion of various metabolic products. Besides waste products from the many metabolic processes of the body, toxins are also excreted via the kidney. The kidney also plays an important role in the regulation of the acid-base balance, as it can retain or excrete acids in the body. The excretion of acids can be considerably slowed and reduced in the case of renal insufficiency, which means that acid metabolites accumulate in the blood and can cause or aggravate acidosis.