The Effects of Too Much Acid in the Body

Acidosis refers to the condition of too much acid in the body. There are several types of acidosis, and their exact mechanisms can vary, but the baseline cause is almost always a failure of one or more organs to maintain the balance between acid and base in your body.

Too much acid in your body may cause headache, weakness or fatigue. Credit: Ridofranz/iStock/GettyImages

Typical Acidosis Symptoms

MedlinePlus explains acidosis as the condition of having too much acid in your body fluids, and notes that typically, people with healthy kidney and lung function won't experience severe cases. The opposite imbalance can occur too; it's called alkalosis, or the condition of having too much base in your body fluids.

For most people, there are two primary mechanisms of acidosis. As MedlinePlus notes, respiratory acidosis is caused by having too much carbon dioxide in your body, usually because you're unable to remove the carbon dioxide properly through breathing. This could be caused by an array of conditions including chronic lung disease, chest injuries, certain neuromuscular disorders, obstructive sleep apnea and severe obesity.

Metabolic acidosis is caused by too much acid being produced in your body — or, alternatively, when your kidneys can't remove enough acid. Other causes of metabolic acidosis can include uncontrolled diabetes, severe diarrhea, aspirin poisoning, severe dehydration and overuse of diuretics or water pills.

Acidic Body Symptoms: Respiratory Acidosis

The symptoms and side effects of acidic body, or acidosis, can vary depending on the exact mechanism involved — but there's also quite a bit of overlap, especially for the symptoms of confusion, fatigue and lethargy.

If you're experiencing respiratory acidosis, other possible symptoms include sleepiness, tremors, sweating, anxiety, warm and flushed skin and shortness of breath. This condition may be chronic or acute. In particular, Medline Plus points out that in acute cases of respiratory acidosis, carbon dioxide builds up very quickly before your kidneys can balance your body chemistry. Regardless of the mechanism, severe cases of respiratory acidosis represent a true medical emergency and require immediate medical care.

Metabolic Acidosis Symptoms

If you have metabolic acidosis, your exact symptoms will vary depending on the underlying cause of your acidosis — which typically boils down to failure of your kidneys or liver to regulate the pH of your body fluids.

MedlinePlus describes the most common symptoms of metabolic acidosis as rapid breathing, possibly accompanied by confusion or lethargy. Severe cases can lead to shock or death so, again, immediate medical attention is required. Treatments to restore the pH balance in your body may include IV fluids or administration of sodium bicarbonate to reduce the acidity of your blood. (If sodium bicarbonate sounds familiar, that's because it's the chemical in baking soda.)

Read more: What Is an Alkaline Diet?

Is Acidosis Real?

In the February 2015 issue of the journal Integrative Medicine, the author notes that acidosis was once considered an old-fashioned myth. But a growing body of research identifies acidosis as not only a very real phenomenon, but a contributing factor for a wide range of diseases that include metabolic syndrome, cancer and osteoporosis.

He goes on to break down the three primary causes of acidosis: diet, medications, and disrupted metabolism. Usually your kidneys, lungs and liver work to buffer excess acidity from any of these causes, but when they start to fail, your body uses calcium from your bones as a buffer — thus the link to osteoporosis. Interestingly, the author cites the primary sources of diet-induced acidic changes as coming from salt, the phosphoric acid in soft drinks and sulfur-containing amino acids.

Read more: Herbal Teas That Are Alkaline

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