Lactic acid is mainly produced in muscle cells and red blood cells. It forms when the body breaks down carbohydrates to use for energy during times of low oxygen levels. Your body's oxygen level might drop during intense exercise or if 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. for information on how this is done, see: Venipuncture.
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
When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain, while others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.
David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.