This test measures the level of lactic acid, also known as lactate, in your blood. Lactic acid is a substance made by muscle tissue and by red blood cells, which carry oxygen from your lungs to other parts of your body. Normally, the level of lactic acid in the blood is low. Lactic acid levels rise when oxygen levels decrease. Low oxygen levels may be caused by:

- Strenuous exercise
- Heart failure
- Severe infection
- Shock, a dangerous condition that limits blood flow to your organs and tissues

If lactic acid levels get too high, it can lead to a life-threatening condition known as lactic acidosis. A lactic acid test can help diagnose lactic acidosis before it causes serious complications.

Other names: lactate test, lactic acid: plasma


For detecting and diagnosing purposes--high levels of lactate in the blood may indicate a lack of oxygen or other conditions. This test is not part of a health status screening, but instead is used to determine conditions that may cause excess production or insufficient clearing of lactate from the blood.


Testing should be done if symptoms suggesting a lack of oxygen or an abnormal blood pH (acid/base imbalance) are present (e.g. rapid breathing, sweating, nausea). Your healthcare provider may order this test if there is reason to suspect you are experiencing any of the following conditions: sepsis, heart attack or other serious heart conditions (such as congestive heart failure), kidney failure, shock, or uncontrolled diabetes), or if it is believed that you have an uncommon, hereditary metabolic or mitochondrial disorder. If you have sweet-smelling breath, pain in the belly, confusion, or cool and clammy skin, the test can help diagnose these symptoms as lactic acidosis.

  • Why do I need this test?

  • You may need a lactic acid test if you have symptoms of lactic acidosis. These include:
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle weakness
  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Abdominal pain
  • You may also need this test if you have symptoms of sepsis or meningitis. Symptoms of sepsis include:
  • Fever, Chills, Rapid heart rate, Rapid breathing, Confusion
  • Symptoms of meningitis include:
  • Severe headache, Fever, Stiff neck, Sensitivity to light
Lactic Acid

Lactic Acid

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Note: The medical information provided here in this website is for informational purposes only and is not to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.