What Are Lactic Acidosis Symptoms?

Nausea is a common symptom of lactic acidosis.
Article Details
  • Written By: Hilary Evans
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 23 August 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article

Lactic acidosis occurs when lactic acid accumulates in the blood more quickly than it is removed. Common lactic acidosis symptoms include clamminess, fatigue, stomachache, lethargy, rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, sweet-smelling breath and nausea. It can feel similar to heat stroke or heat exhaustion, and it most often arises in situations where those conditions are likely to occur.

A blood test can determine whether too much lactic acid is in the blood. Further testing might be needed to figure out the cause, though. It might be necessary to test spinal fluid to rule out certain life-threatening infections.

Lactic acidosis symptoms are similar to many of the symptoms of overheating and exhaustion, so a person might mistake his or her symptoms for one another. Intense exercise is the most common cause behind the condition. The cure often is as simple as resting until the body can break down the excess of lactic acid in the blood. Drinking sports drinks containing electrolytes helps prevent the problem or can speed up recovery.

When the kidneys or liver aren't functioning properly, waiting for the body to recover by itself might not be possible. Diabetes patients, people suffering from acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and other auto-immune disorders and those with liver and kidney problems might be at increased risk and should take lactic acidosis symptoms seriously. Left untreated, the condition eventually can lead to a coma.


There are a variety of medications and poisons that also can lead to the buildup of lactic acid. The problem with poisons, of course, is that most often, resulting illnesses are from accidental exposure. It can be difficult to pinpoint the source. When medications are the culprit, it might be a matter of time before suitable replacements can be found. In those cases, it is best to work closely with a doctor who takes care to monitor the person's progress.

Sometimes it is the lack of something causing a problem. Along with lactic acidosis symptoms, patients with a deficiency in Vitamin B1, for instance, can experience memory loss, depression and general confusion. A trained medical professional will be able to determine the source of the problems and any treatment that is necessary.

This condition is not always for the worst. High-performance athletes often learn to work through the symptoms of sore, fatigued muscles to reach new plateaus. Recent research suggests that the buildup of lactic acid in these cases might enhance abilities, pushing the human body further than it normally would go. Before attempting to use lactic acid in this way, however, more research and supervision by a knowledgeable professional should be employed.


Discuss this Article

Post your comments

Post Anonymously


forgot password?