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Lactic Acid

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:

  • Taking large doses of the medicine epinephrine.
  • Taking medicines, such as isoniazid for tuberculosis or metformin (Glucophage) for diabetes.
  • Using a lot of acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or alcohol.
  • Exercising prior to this test.
  • Clenching a fist while the blood sample is being drawn. Also, lactic acid levels may be higher if the tourniquet is around your arm for a long time.

What To Think About

  • Results from a lactic acid test may be more accurate when the blood is taken from an artery (arterial blood gas) rather than from a vein. For more information, see the topic Arterial Blood Gas.
  • During aerobic exercise, the heart and lungs supply adequate amounts of oxygen to the body for energy. Anaerobic exercise uses more oxygen than the lungs and heart can supply to the body so the energy supply is less, thus causing high lactic acid levels in the blood. Usually anaerobic exercise forces a person to slow down or stop exercising because lactic acid buildup causes moderate to severe muscle aches and muscle stiffness. But some highly trained athletes learn to tolerate short periods of high lactic acid levels. During aerobic exercise, the air you breathe contains enough oxygen to use blood sugars normally and completely for the body's energy needs, and lactic acid levels do not rise.
  • Lactic acid can be measured in fluids other than blood, such as spinal fluid. Lactic acid levels in body fluids often increase when an infection is present. The amount of lactic acid in spinal fluid may be measured to determine whether a brain infection is being caused by bacteria or a virus.

Citations

  1. Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Other Works Consulted

  • Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.

  • Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

  • Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerJoseph O'Donnell, MD - Hematology, Oncology
Last RevisedAugust 6, 2012
1|2|3

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 06, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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