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Acidosis vs. Acidemia

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  • 0:03 Differing Terms
  • 0:30 What Is Acidosis?
  • 2:08 What Is Acidemia?
  • 2:52 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Are you confused as to the difference between acidosis and acidemia? These terms are sometimes used interchangeably. This lesson will explain these terms and delineate their differences for you.

Differing Terms

It's not uncommon for people in the medical and scientific fields to use certain terms interchangeably, even if it is not correct to do so. Even though it's incorrect, in practice, it becomes the norm. One of these instances is the mixing of the terms 'acidosis' and 'acidemia.' While they are definitely closely related, they are not the same. Let's define the technical differences between the two.

What Is Acidosis?

Acidosis is a pathological state caused by a disease that results in an abnormal increase in acid in the body.To help remember it, we can look at the word parts. Acid- refers to something with low pH. The suffix -osis implies some sort of abnormal state. It also implies an abnormal increase of something.

Acidosis does not occur magically on its own; something has to trigger it. Acidosis may be caused by respiratory disorders, metabolic conditions, or both. Any of the following scenarios can result in acidosis:

  • The accumulation of excess acid. Meaning, it's an absolute (actual) acidosis. Here, acid is either produced in excess (which can happen from having diabetes in diabetic ketoacidosis) or it is not eliminated properly (say from a kidney impairment).
  • The depletion of alkaline (acid-neutralizing) resources, like bicarbonate is relative acidosis because the amount of acid has actually stayed the same. However, the alkaline reserve diminshes (a base deficit). This occurs as a result of underproduction of bicarbonate ions, which can happen if you are dehydrated, or the over-elimination of bases, say from diarrhea.
  • And finally, acidosis can occur through an interplay of both accumulation of excess acid and depletion of alkaline resources, where the combinations of the amounts and/or strengths of both the acids and bases results in acidosis.

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