What Is Metabolic Shock?

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Metabolic shock is a symptom of metabolic acidosis, which occurs when the body produces an excess of acid, or cannot rid itself of acid build-up. It can lead to rapid breathing, lethargy, confusion and in severe cases, death.

Metabolic acidosis has several forms. Diabetic acidosis is a result of acid-based substances called ketone bodies. Also known as diabetic ketoacidosis, it is typically a result of uncontrolled Type 1 diabetes. Ketoacidosis may also be caused by alcoholism, lack of nutrition and occasionally by fasting. Lactic acidosis is a very common cause of metabolic acidosis and is typically found in patients hospitalized by metabolic acidosis. It is a result of the buildup and lack of utilization of lactate, and occurs during various stages of metabolic shock. The decreased use of lactate is caused by poor liver performance.

Kidney disease can lead to metabolic acidosis. If the kidneys are not functioning properly, then acid may not be removed from the body by excretion. Severe dehydration may lead to metabolic acidosis, as well as poisoning from the usage of aspirin, methanol and ethylene glycol. Most symptoms of metabolic acidosis are a result of the underlying cause of the condition. Treatment is usually targeted at this cause, although sodium bicarbonate is commonly taken to reduce acid levels in the blood.