A disturbance of the body’s acid–base balance in which there is an accumulation of acid or loss of alkali (base). There are 2 types of acidosis: metabolic and respiratory. One form of metabolic acidosis is ketoacidosis, which occurs in uncontrolled diabetes mellitus and starvation. Metabolic acidosis may also be caused by loss of bicarbonate (an alkali) as a result of severe diarrhoea. In kidney failure, there is insufficient excretion of acid in the urine. Respiratory acidosis occurs if breathing fails to remove enough carbon dioxide from the lungs. The excess carbon dioxide remains in the bloodstream, where it dissolves to form carbonic acid. Impaired breathing leading to respiratory acidosis may be due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (see pulmonary disease, chronic obstructive), bronchial asthma, or airway obstruction.


Online Medical Dictionary: Your essential reference to over 5000 medical terms.