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What are the Different Types of Lactic Acidosis?

What are the Different Types of Lactic Acidosis?

Under normal metabolic conditions, glycolysis is the first step to gathering energy from consumed sugars. This process typically requires oxygen, and the yielded by-product goes further into its cellular process to create more energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. In the absence of oxygen, glycolysis yields energy, but the by-product halts once lactic acid or lactate is formed. This is a process often noted acutely in the muscles during high intensity exercise, but it also occurs in other tissues where oxygen is deprived. Thankfully, when it occurs in the muscles and it is triggered by exercise, the body is able to easily achieve homeostasis and normal pH levels at rest.

What is lactic acidosis?

Lactic acidosis is the build-up of lactate in the body, leading to a decrease in pH—a higher level of acidity—in the body. While the chemical process is similar to that of muscles, it presents as a much more severe condition when exercise is removed as the underlying mechanism.

Symptoms of lactic acidosis

  • General discomfort (it may be focused in the abdominal region)
  • Muscle pain or a general feeling of weakness
  • Diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting
  • Fast, shallow breathing

Types of lactic acidosis

There are 2 main types of lactic acidosis:

  1. Type A acidosis is described by having poor tissue perfusion or oxygenation of blood.
  2. Type B acidosis is suspected when there is no evidence that match with the signs and symptoms of type A. This is further subcategorized as being caused by systemic disease (Type B1), by drugs or toxins (Type B2), or by inborn metabolic errors.

Causes of lactic acidosis

In the case of the treatment of type 2 diabetes, metformin is known to occasionally cause lactic acidosis and, in some cases, can be the cause of mixed forms of lactic acidosis. To avoid this from happening, it is important to make sure that if there are any concerns with the dosage, medication contraindications, or if there is a sudden appearance of the described signs and symptoms, to discuss it with a medical doctor.


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Disclaimer: Please note that the contents of this community article are strictly for informational purposes and should not be considered as medical advice. This article, and other community articles, are not written or reviewed for medical validity by Canadian Insulin or its staff. All views and opinions expressed by the contributing authors are not endorsed by Canadian Insulin. Always consult a medical professional for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment.
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