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Anaerobic

Definition

Anaerobic means "without oxygen." The term has many uses in medicine.

Anaerobic bacteria are able to survive and grow in environments that have no oxygen. This leads them to cause specific types of illness such as tetanus or gangrene.

Anaerobic exercise, such as weight lifting, uses energy produced by the body's metabolism that does not require oxygen. It generates lactic acid and usually cannot be sustained for long.

Illnesses in which the patient is deficient in oxygen can force the body to use anaerobic metabolism, generating harmful chemicals. This can happen in all types of shock.

Anaerobic is the opposite of aerobic.


Review Date: 4/18/2013
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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