Acidosis is a shift in the pH value in human blood. The pH value indicates the balance of acids and bases in the body. As a rule, the acid-base balance of the body is relatively balanced, only slightly alkaline.
An absolutely neutral pH value is 7, that of human blood is usually 7.35-7.45. Acidosis here means a shift into the acidic range, i.e. a lowering of the pH value. Even slight shifts of the decimal place can have considerable effects on the body. The acid-base balance must therefore be constantly balanced and adjusted by the body through breathing, metabolism, digestion and excretion. Acidosis can develop in the same way if one of the body’s regulatory mechanisms, for example respiration, fails.
Typical symptoms of acidosis
The symptoms depend on the severity of the acidosis. The body can compensate for a minimal shift to the acidic range via its numerous buffer systems and regulatory mechanisms. Only more serious shifts can become noticeable in the metabolism and as physical symptoms.
- Respiratory symptoms such as deep breathing and shortness of breath
- Symptoms of shortness of breath: blue lips, fatigue, headache, loss of consciousness
- Redutkion of the cardiovascular system: drop in blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmia
- Symptoms of altered metabolism: bad breath, coma
- Symptoms of altered excretion: Increased urge to urinate
Blue lips are a sign of a lack of oxygen. If the body is not sufficiently supplied with oxygen, the blood takes on a much darker colour. This is particularly noticeable on the lips but also on the fingers and feet in the form of a bluish colouring of the skin.
The lack of oxygen is a possible cause of acidosis. Behind it can be a problem with breathing. If normal breathing is prevented, not only a lack of oxygen occurs but also an accumulation of harmful substances which are excreted through the exhaled air.
As a result, CO2 can accumulate in the blood, which is acidic and can shift the pH value of the blood. Breathlessness is a typical symptom of an uncompensated acidosis. A lack of oxygen does not necessarily have to be present.
Both a metabolic cause and a respiratory problem as the reason for the acidosis in the blood can lead to shortness of breath. Typically, the so-called “kissing mouth breathing” occurs, a noisy and deep breathing, which causes increased CO2 to be breathed out in order to raise the pH value in the blood. Significantly reduced CO2 levels with normal oxygen levels in the blood speak for this form of hyperventilation.
One of the body’s ways to excrete the excess acid in the body is via the kidneys. Acid molecules can be specifically bound and excreted via the kidney system. This can also increase the total urine volume.
In this case, the increased urge to urinate speaks for an increased urine volume as an acute reaction to the over-acidification of the body. A disturbance of consciousness is an absolute warning signal in the presence of acidosis. Acidosis causes metabolic processes throughout the body to compensate for the excess acidity.
These include numerous buffer systems and increased excretion of potentially acidic substances via respiration and the kidneys. These metabolic processes can be accompanied by a considerable lack of fluids. In the worst case, the increased water excretion and the shifts in the acid-base balance result in a volume deficiency shock with disturbances of consciousness up to coma.
In order to treat the disturbance of consciousness, it is important to first determine the cause. A respiratory problem can also be behind the disturbance of consciousness and at the same time trigger acidosis. In this case the disturbance of consciousness is caused by a lack of oxygen.
Fatigue can also indicate a disturbance of consciousness and can be a warning symptom of acute acidosis. The numerous physical reactions to the shift in the acid-base balance are still accompanied by a considerable expenditure of energy. The additional lack of fluid can cause severe fatigue in the patient.
The metabolic processes that begin in the body to buffer acidosis sometimes produce toxic metabolic products that can trigger further symptoms in the body such as nausea, tiredness and vomiting. Overall, the fatigue indicates an acute event requiring treatment. Headaches are a common symptom of acidosis and typical of a respiratory problem.
Restricted respiratory function initially leads to a lack of oxygen with neurological symptoms such as tiredness, headaches and disturbances of consciousness. The lack of oxygen can lead to malfunctioning and fatigue throughout the body. In addition, reduced respiration leads to an excess of CO2, which cannot be sufficiently exhaled.
Coma is the extreme variant of acidosis and is a life-threatening symptom. Slight acidosis can be well balanced and buffered by the body. Only when the regulatory mechanisms of the body fail, symptoms develop.
A disturbance of consciousness with coma indicates that the body’s own mechanisms cannot compensate for the severe acidosis. As a consequence, severe fluid loss with shock and the accumulation of toxic metabolic products occurs, which cannot be excreted in time. An acidotic coma is often found in the context of type I diabetes.
Bad breath is very typical in advanced acidosis associated with severe metabolic disorders. Typically, the exhaled air smells of acetone, as contained in nail polish removers. The smell is also often associated with fermented fruit.
Typically, bad breath is also caused by diabetic derailments. The underlying cause is a lack of energy in the body due to a lack of insulin or hunger and fasting. Bad breath is an important warning signal, which can be accompanied by severe disturbances of consciousness and coma.
High blood pressure is very untypical in the context of acidosis. In general, various metabolic processes lead to a reduction in cardiac output. The heart activity is reduced, which manifests itself in a lowered pulse rate and low blood pressure.
Due to the reduced cardiac activity, the heart may even suffer dangerous conduction disorders with cardiac arrhythmia. You will find interesting information about high blood pressure under the following link: High blood pressureAcidosis also has a considerable effect on the heart. The altered metabolic situation causes changes in the channels of the heart muscle cells which lead to a decrease in heart activity.
Their exact effects on the heart are negative “dromotropic” and negative “inotropic”. This means that both the strength of the heart and the transmission of excitation are reduced. This can sometimes take on dangerous proportions if the decreased transition leads to a sharp slowing of the heartbeat.
A slow cardiac arrhythmia can be the result. Are you interested in this topic?