There are a number of things that define acidosis, but the most revealing is taken in what is called a blood gas or a simple blood test from an artery. In this test, pH of blood is measured and if pH sinks below 7.35, a person is considered acidotic. Similarly, a pH higher than 7.45 is considered alkalosis. This condition may occur under numerous circumstances and without treatment it can cause great damage to the body.
People most likely to get acidic blood include those with impaired breathing conditions, or with kidney or liver damage. Essentially the body makes more acid than it can get rid of, resulting in overly acidic blood. In respiratory acidosis, the body is unable to get rid of carbon dioxide in appropriate amounts and this can change “blood gases” to show acidosis. Someone with persistent hyperventilation could briefly become acidotic, and various lung diseases or lung impairment may result in the condition. Sometimes being on a respirator in a hospital for long periods of time might result in respiratory or pulmonary versions of this condition, which is why those on respirators have blood gases checked regularly.
Other things that may cause acidic blood levels include starving the body, which can cause the body to concentrate acid and be unable to dispose of it. Certain poisons may result in an acidotic state too. Some conditions, especially diabetes, are indicators in causing this condition, and when untreated, it may progress to what is called metabolic acidosis.
The symptoms of metabolic forms of this condition can include deep rapid breathing, chest pain, pain in the bones, muscle weakness and ultimately arrhythmias, coma, seizure or drastic reduction in blood pressure. When this condition is present, generally the lungs try to compensate for it, hence the deep breathing. This will ultimately fail, and people need treatment of other means in order to address the condition.
Most treatments for this condition are aimed at changing the pH level in the blood so that it is within normal standards. For minor cases, people might simply take sodium bicarbonate substances to reduce acid levels. Sometimes people with severe acidosis require intravenous (IV) line sodium bicarbonate to quickly bring blood back to normal acid levels.
One common type of acidosis seen in those with diabetes type I is ketoacidosis. Lack of insulin can cause the body to break down fats resulting in the body building up ketones and extra acid. These can change blood pH level and raise blood glucose levels. Adequate means to address this are by giving insulin, and replacing fluids. This can help restore normal blood acidity balances.