A true acid state of the blood never actually occurs during life. Acidosis is, therefore, merely the tendency toward production of overacidity that may arise in certain diseases. Acid is always developing in the body but is usually carried away in excretions from the body.
There are some conditions affecting digestion in which acidosis develops, either because of increased production of acid or because the alkaline substances are lost by way of the bowels. This happens when there is much loss of fluid from vomiting or diarrhea. The treatment is to replace the loss of fluid and to hinder the production of acid substances by giving water, salts, and glucose. If these cannot be taken by mouth, the doctor will inject what is needed into the tissues or veins.
The most obvious symptoms of acidosis are headache, weakness, rapid breathing, and a sort of fruity odor to the breath. The most certain tests are made in the laboratory. Such tests of the blood and urine will show the amount of the alkali reserve and the acid state.
Certain foods are definitely associated with the formation of acid. These include lean beef, white bread, chicken, egg yolk, oysters, veal, wheat, pork, fish. Other foods tend to yield alkaline reactions. The alkaline-forming products include tomatoes, prunes, carrots,lima beans, oranges, lemons, cantaloupe, lettuce, peaches, potatoes, and dried peas.
Sodium bicarbonate is frequently taken to overcome an acid condition. The symptoms of excess acidity are signals of trouble, which should be investigated carefully. Sometimes the trouble is constipation; sometimes the difficulty is in the gall bladder. When a fire bell rings the fireman does not pour water on the fire bell; he recognizes the signal and goes to the fire. When acid eructations occur, the difficulty is not always with the acid.
Diabetes is the chief disease in which acidosis occurs. In diabetes the body is unable to use sugar, so that fats are incompletely burned in the body and acid substances are produced. The acid substances accumulate, and the body must develop alkaline susbtances to neutralize them.
Acidosis also develops in some diseases of the kidney, but it is never so severe in these conditions as when it is associated with diabetes.
Usually excess acid in the secretions of the stomach is associated with excessive work, worry, indulgence in alcohol or tobacco, or imperfect utilization of fluid. It is sometimes associated also with ulcer in the stomach. Before doing anything about excess acid in the stomach, however, find out the extent of the excess and whether or not anything needs to be done about it.
Citrus fruits have been offered as a means of overcoming acidosis; if the body is really acid, it will take six quarts of orange juice to get it over on the alkaline side. But oranges may well constitute a part of an alkalinizing diet. Some people warn against eating meat for fear it will have an acid tendency. Chemists have estimated that it would require four and one half pounds of lean beef in a single meal to produce a slight shift toward the acid side.