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.

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.
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