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What is Respiratory Alkalosis? Print E-mail
Written by Adrian Wozniak   
Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Alkalosis describes a condition in which the amount of acid in the body is reduced. It may be due to breathing too fast, which is called respiratory alkalosis.

What is going on in the body?

The kidneys and lungs work to keep the level of acid in the body at a constant level. The kidneys can get rid of acid in the urine and the lungs can get rid of acid in the form of carbon dioxide gas. Many different conditions can cause the lungs to breathe out more carbon dioxide than usual.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?
There are many things that can cause too much acid in the body. Examples include dehydration, infection, not getting enough oxygen, certain toxins, and kidney problems. Respiratory alkalosis in these cases is a normal reaction of the body.

Abnormal cases, in which the level of acid in the body is normal, may be caused by:
_ anxiety
_ brain damage, such as head injury or a stroke
_ certain medications, such as aspirin
_ pregnancy, which usually causes only mild cases
_ liver failure, such as cirrhosis
_ inflammation or tumors in the central nervous systemWhat are the treatments for the condition?

If the respiratory alkalosis is a normal response from too much body acid, the cause of the extra acid needs to be treated. If the condition is caused by anxiety, the person can try putting a paper bag over his or her mouth. By rebreathing the air in the paper bag, the person may be able to stop the attack of fast breathing. Sedatives may also be needed to calm the person.

What are the side effects of the treatments?
Sedatives can cause drowsiness, allergic reactions, and other side effects, depending on the medication used.

What happens after treatment for the condition?
The person's life after treatment depends on the underlying cause. For example, if the underlying cause is brain damage, a person may need lifelong treatment. If the underlying cause can be fixed, no further treatment is needed.

How is the condition monitored?
Regular arterial blood gases may be used to monitor respiratory alkalosis. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.


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