Alkalosis occurs when your blood and body fluids contain an excess of bases or alkali, generally occurring when the blood pH is above 7.45.
Your blood’s acid-base (alkali) balance is critical to your well-being. When the balance is off, even by a small amount, it can make you sick.
Your blood is made up of acids and bases. The amount of acids and bases in your blood can be measured on a pH scale. It’s important to maintain the correct balance between acids and bases. Even a slight change can cause health problems. Normally, your blood should have a slightly higher amount of bases than acids.
Even a slight imbalance of your blood pH can make you sick, irritable, and uncomfortable. Some of the common symptoms for metabolic and respiratory alkalosis are:
• General confusion
• Feeling faint
• Muscle spasms
• Numbness in your face, feet, or hands
Alkalosis can range in severity. It can have no noticeable symptoms or result in nearly constant, painful muscle spasms. If severe tetany (muscle spasms) develops, you’ll need to contact your doctor.
Types & Causes –
There are four main types of alkalosis.
▪︎ Respiratory alkalosis
Respiratory alkalosis occurs when there isn’t enough carbon dioxide in your bloodstream. It’s often caused by:
• hyperventilation, which commonly occurs with anxiety
• high fever
• lack of oxygen
• salicylate poisoning
• being in high altitudes
• liver disease
• lung disease
▪︎ Metabolic alkalosis
Metabolic alkalosis develops when your body loses too much acid or gains too much base. This can be attributed to:
• excess vomiting, which causes electrolyte loss
• overuse of diuretics
• adrenal disease
• a large loss of potassium or sodium in a short amount of time
• accidental ingestion of bicarbonate, which can be found in baking soda
• alcohol abuse
▪︎ Hypochloremic alkalosis
Hypochloremic alkalosis occurs when there’s a significant decline of chloride in your body. This can be due to prolonged vomiting or sweating. Chloride is an important chemical needed to maintain balance in bodily fluids, and it’s an essential part of your body’s digestive fluids.
▪︎ Hypokalemic alkalosis
Hypokalemic alkalosis occurs when your body lacks the normal amount of the mineral potassium. You normally get potassium from your food, but not eating enough of it is rarely the cause of a potassium deficiency. Kidney disease, excessive sweating, and diarrhea are just a few ways you can lose too much potassium. Potassium is essential to the proper functioning of the:
• nervous system
• digestive system
Untreated or not treated properly, complications may include any of the following:
• Arrhythmias (heart beating too fast, too slow, or irregularly)
• Electrolyte imbalance (such as low potassium level)
Your doctor will ask you about your medical history and the symptoms you’ve been experiencing. They will likely order tests that will rule out other conditions. Common tests include:
• urine pH level test
• basic metabolic panel
• arterial blood gas analysis
Your treatment plan will depend on the cause of your alkalosis.
• Generally respiratory alkalosis is not serious or life threatening. The first step is to make sure that the patient is getting enough oxygen.
• If the hyperventilation was caused due to pain, giving pain killers will usually be enough.
• If respiratory alkalosis was caused by anxiety, reassurance and calming the patient is necessary. The patient is asked to take slow and deep breaths consciously.
• Breathing into a paper bag may help as the patient breathes back the exhaled CO2 from the bag.
• As the condition is generally not serious, no interventions to lower the pH are required.
• The underlying cause should be identified and treated.
• Fluids should be replaced by intravenous infusions.
• Electrolyte disturbances such as low serum potassium (hypokalemia) should also be corrected.
• Even in case of severe metabolic alkalosis, dilute acid is not commonly administered intravenously.
If your alkalosis is caused by a loss of chemicals such as chloride or potassium, you’ll be prescribed medications or supplements to replace these chemicals.
Reduce your risk for developing alkalosis by maintaining good health, eating a healthy diet, and staying hydrated.
Nutrients and potassium are primarily found in fruits and vegetables, as well as some other foods, such as:
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