Acid loading test (pH)
The acid loading test (pH) measures the ability of the kidneys to send acid to the urine when there is too much acid in the blood. This test involves both a blood test and urine test.
Renal tubular acidosis - acid loading test
How the Test is Performed
Before the test, you will need to take a medicine called ammonium chloride for 3 days. Follow instructions exactly on how to take it to ensure an accurate result.
How to Prepare for the Test
Your health care provider will tell you to take ammonium chloride capsules by mouth for 3 days before the test.
How the Test will Feel
When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain. Others feel only a prick or stinging. Afterward, there may be some throbbing or slight bruising. This soon goes away.
The urine test involves only normal urination, and there is no discomfort.
Why the Test is Performed
This test is done to see how well your kidneys control the body's acid-base balance.
Urine with a pH less than 5.3 is normal.
Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or test different samples. Talk to your provider about the meaning of your specific test results.
What Abnormal Results Mean
The most common disorder associated with an abnormal result is renal tubular acidosis.
There are no risks with providing a urine sample.
There is little risk involved with having your blood taken. Veins and arteries vary in size from one person to another and from one side of the body to the other. Taking blood from some people may be more difficult than from others.
Other risks associated with having blood drawn are slight, but may include:
- Excessive bleeding
- Fainting or feeling lightheaded
- Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
- Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)
Edelstein CL. Biomarkers in acute kidney injury. In: Edelstein CL, ed. Biomarkers of Kidney Disease. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 6.
Sreedharan R, Avner ED. Renal tubular acidosis. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 529.
Reviewed By: Walead Latif, MD, nephrologist and Clinical Associate Professor, Rutgers Medical School, Newark, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.