Pediatric Metabolic Acidosis Medication

  • Author: Lennox H Huang, MD, FAAP; Chief Editor: Timothy E Corden, MD  more...
Updated: Jan 06, 2015

Medication Summary

Specific therapies are directed at the underlying disease process that causes metabolic acidosis. However, sodium bicarbonate and tromethamine (also called THAM or tris [hydroxymethyl]-aminomethane) are used to address the acidosis itself.


Alkalinizing agents

Class Summary

Sodium bicarbonate is used as a gastric, systemic, and urinary alkalinizer and has been used in the treatment of acidosis resulting from metabolic and respiratory causes, including, diarrhea, kidney disturbances, and shock. Alternatively, THAM is a buffering agent that increases pH without increasing levels of PaCO2. It may be used to correct metabolic acidosis if sodium bicarbonate is contraindicated.

Sodium bicarbonate


Sodium bicarbonate serves as a buffering agent for metabolic acidosis when significant bicarbonate losses have occurred.

Tromethamine (THAM)


THAM combines with hydrogen ions to form bicarbonate buffer. It is used to prevent and correct systemic acidosis. It is available as 0.3-mol/L IV solution containing 18 g (150 mEq) per 500 mL (0.3 mEq/mL).



Class Summary

Vitamins are essential to normal metabolism.



Thiamine is an essential coenzyme that combines with ATP to form thiamine pyrophosphate. The dosage forms include a parenteral injection (100 mg/mL) and tablets. Thiamine administration rapidly corrects the clinical symptomatology in metabolic acidosis.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Lennox H Huang, MD, FAAP Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Pediatrics, McMaster University School of Medicine; Chief of Pediatrics, McMaster Children's Hospital

Lennox H Huang, MD, FAAP is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association for Physician Leadership, Canadian Medical Association, Ontario Medical Association, Society of Critical Care Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Margaret A Priestley, MD Associate Professor of Clinical Anesthesiology and Critical Care, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania; Clinical Director, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Margaret A Priestley, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, Society of Critical Care Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Timothy E Corden, MD Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Co-Director, Policy Core, Injury Research Center, Medical College of Wisconsin; Associate Director, PICU, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin

Timothy E Corden, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, Phi Beta Kappa, Society of Critical Care Medicine, Wisconsin Medical Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


G Patricia Cantwell, MD, FCCM Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, Chief, Division of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine, University of Miami, Leonard M Miller School of Medicine; Medical Director, Palliative Care Team, Director, Pediatric Critical Care Transport, Holtz Children's Hospital, Jackson Memorial Medical Center; Medical Manager, FEMA, Urban Search and Rescue, South Florida, Task Force 2; Pediatric Medical Director, Tilli Kids – Pediatric Initiative, Division of Hospice Care Southeast Florida, Inc

G Patricia Cantwell, MD, FCCM is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Heart Association, American Trauma Society, National Association of EMS Physicians, Society of Critical Care Medicine, and Wilderness Medical Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Barry J Evans, MD Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Temple University Medical School; Director of Pediatric Critical Care and Pulmonology, Associate Chair for Pediatric Education, Temple University Children's Medical Center

Barry J Evans, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Chest Physicians, American Thoracic Society, and Society of Critical Care Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Mary L Windle, PharmD Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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Approach for evaluating metabolic acidosis.
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