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Lactic Acidosis Symptoms to Watch Out For

Written by andy

These are the lactic acidosis symptoms you need to watch out for.

Lactic acidosis is a serious, potentially fatal condition that occurs when your natural lactic acid production is increased to dangerous levels. Lactic acid is a natural byproduct of exercise (burning ATP energy for muscle contractions), but there are a number of things that can cause the production of lactic acid to rise severely: blood problems, certain medications, severe infections, liver damage/failure, and extreme exercise. If you’re not careful, you could end up doing your body serious harm as a result of very high lactic acid production.

There are a number of lactic acidosis symptoms that can alert you to the problems. You should keep an eye out for the following indicators of lactic acidosis:

  • Burning in your muscles – You know how your muscles burn when you work out? This is the result of lactic acid, which alters the way your muscles contract and relax. Lactic acidosis is often accompanied by that burning sensation in your muscles, even if you haven’t worked out. You may end up feeling sore and tired.
  • Cramps – The cramps are also the result of the lactic acid, which cause the spasms in your muscles. Lactic acid alters the way your muscles contract and relax, so they can cause cramps in your muscles as well as in your gut.
  • Nausea – Nausea is a sign that there’s something seriously wrong not only in your intestines, but in your body overall. Some cases of lactic acidosis are the result of poor blood flow to the intestines, and the nausea is an indicator that your digestive system isn’t working quite right.
  • Weakness – Remember how the lactic acidosis causes extreme contractions in your muscles? This can burn through all your ATP energy, leaving you feeling weak and drained.

READ MORE: Walking for Health: 10 Reasons You Feel Better After a Stroll

These are some of the more common symptoms of lactic acidosis, particularly exercise-induced lactic acidosis. However, if there is another underlying cause of the problem, the lactic acidosis symptoms may be much more serious:

  • Profuse sweating, the result of your body trying to get rid of the excess acid
  • Skin that is cold and clammy to the touch
  • An odd bluish discoloration of your fingernails and lips
  • Pain in your chest, particularly muscular pain
  • Rapid breathing or elevated heart rate
  • A sweet-smell on your breath
  • Decreased or nonexistent output of urine
  • Unusual confusion or anxiety
  • Unconsciousness

If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s time to get yourself to a doctor and get checked out as soon as possible. Lactic acidosis can be serious at best, and fatal at worst. It’s vital you take steps to deal with the underlying condition that is causing the lactic acidosis.

Remember: lactic acid is usually produced as a result of exercise. When the mitochondrial structures in your cells respond to an increased energy demand in anaerobic (low oxygen) conditions, lactic acid is the byproduct. For a normal person, lactic acid is just a side effect of exercise, but a problem that will clear up on its own with a bit of rest.

However, as mentioned above, the other causes of high lactic acid production can be very serious. The lactic acid symptoms listed here will be an indicator that something is seriously wrong. It’s vital that you get to the doctor and get a lactic acid blood test to determine what the cause of the problem is. This will ensure that you treat the real problem rather than just the symptoms. It’s the only way to ensure you remain happy and healthy!

About the author


Some people get lucky and are born with fit, toned bodies. Andy Peloquin is not one of those people... Fitness has come hard for him, and he's had to work for it. His trials have led him to becoming a martial artist, an NFPT-certified fitness trainer, and a man passionate about exercise, diet and healthy living. He loves to exercise--he does so six days a week--and loves to share his passion for fitness and health with others.

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