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    Lactic acid test

    Lactate test

    Lactic acid is mainly produced in muscle cells and red blood cells. It forms when the body breaks down carbohydrates to use for energy during times of low oxygen levels. Times when your body's oxygen level might drop include:

    • During intense exercise
    • When you have an infection or disease

    A test can be done to measure the amount of lactic acid in the blood.

    How the Test is Performed

    A blood sample is needed. Most of the time blood is drawn from a vein located on the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand.

    How to Prepare for the Test

    Do not exercise for several hours before the test. Exercise can cause a temporary increase in lactic acid levels.

    How the Test Will Feel

    You may feel slight pain or a sting when the needle is inserted. You may also feel some throbbing at the site after the blood is drawn.

    Why the Test is Performed

    This test is usually done to diagnose lactic acidosis.

    Normal Results

    4.5 to 19.8 mg/dL (0.5-2.2 mmol/L)

    Note: mg/dL = milligrams per deciliter; mmol/L = millimoles per liter

    Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

    The examples above show the common measurements for results for these tests. Some laboratories use different measurements or may test different specimens.

    What Abnormal Results Mean

    Abnormal results mean that body tissues are not getting enough oxygen.

    Conditions that can increase lactic acid levels include:

    • Heart failure
    • Liver disease
    • Lung disease
    • Not enough blood containing oxygen getting to a certain area of the body
    • Severe infection that affects the entire body (sepsis)
    • Very low levels of oxygen in the blood (hypoxia)

    Considerations

    Clenching the fist or having the elastic band in place for a long time while having blood drawn can result in a false increase in lactic acid level.

    References

    Seifter JL. Acid-base disorders. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 120.

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          Review Date: 5/5/2013

          Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.

          The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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