It is a medical condition in which the respiration of the pH of the blood increases beyond the normal range or average values (7.35 to 7.45) with a concomitant reduction in the arterial levels of carbon dioxide. There are two types of respiratory alkalosis: acute and chronic.
The chronic form is asymptomatic, but the acute condition causes dizziness, confusion, paresthesias, cramps, and syncope. Signs include hyperpnea or tachypnea and carpopedal spasm.
Signs and symptoms of respiratory alkalosis
- Lung disease
- Thermal aggression
- Salicylate poisoning
- Hyperventilation (due to a heart disorder or other)
- Paralysis of the vocal cords (compensation for loss of voice volume results in more than breath/dyspnea).
- Liver disease
The mechanism of respiratory alkalosis usually occurs when some stimulus causes a person to hyperventilate. An increase in respiration increases alveolar respiration, the expulsion of CO2 from the circulation. This disturbs the dynamic chemical equilibrium of carbon dioxide in the circulatory system.
The ions that circulate hydrogen and bicarbonate move through carbonic acid (H2CO3), an intermediate that produces more CO2 through the carbonic anhydrase enzyme. This causes a decrease in the concentrated circulation of hydrogen ions and increases the pH (alkalosis).
The diagnosis is made by tests that measure oxygen and carbon dioxide (in the blood), chest x-ray, and a pulmonary function test.
The Davenport diagram allows physicians to describe the bicarbonate concentrations in the blood (and blood pH) caused after a respiratory or metabolic acid-base disturbance.
Treatment for respiratory alkalosis
Respiratory alkalosis is rarely a danger to life, although the pH level should not reach 7.5 or higher. The goal of therapy is to discover the underlying cause.