Lactic acid is mainly produced in muscle cells and red blood cells. It forms when the body breaks down carbohydrates to use for energy when oxygen levels are low. 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.
Laura J. Martin, MD, MPH, ABIM Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.