/SiteAssets/Images/FMOLHSBlankBanner.png

Health Information

Alkalosis
Bookmarks

Alkalosis

Print-Friendly  

Alkalosis is a condition in which the body fluids have excess base (alkali). This is the opposite of excess acid (acidosis).

The kidneys and lungs maintain the proper balance (proper pH level) of chemicals, called acids and bases, in the body. Decreased carbon dioxide (an acid) or increased bicarbonate (a base) level makes the body too alkaline, a condition called alkalosis. There are different types of alkalosis. These are described below.

Respiratory alkalosis is caused by a low carbon dioxide levels in the blood. This can be due to:

  • Fever
  • Being at a high altitude
  • Lack of oxygen
  • Liver disease
  • Lung disease, which causes you to breathe faster (hyperventilate)
  • Salicylate poisoning

Metabolic alkalosis is caused by too much bicarbonate in the blood. It can also occur due to certain kidney diseases.

Hypochloremic alkalosis is caused by an extreme lack or loss of chloride, such as from prolonged vomiting.

Hypokalemic alkalosis is caused by the kidneys' response to an extreme lack or loss of potassium. This can occur from taking certain water pills (diuretics).

Compensated alkalosis occurs when the body returns the acid-base balance to normal in cases of alkalosis, but bicarbonate and carbon dioxide levels remain abnormal.

I Would Like to Learn About:

  • Causes

    The kidneys and lungs maintain the proper balance (proper pH level) of chemicals, called acids and bases, in the body. Decreased carbon dioxide (an acid) or increased bicarbonate (a base) level makes the body too alkaline, a condition called alkalosis. There are different types of alkalosis. These are described below.

    Respiratory alkalosis is caused by a low carbon dioxide levels in the blood. This can be due to:

    • Fever
    • Being at a high altitude
    • Lack of oxygen
    • Liver disease
    • Lung disease, which causes you to breathe faster (hyperventilate)
    • Salicylate poisoning

    Metabolic alkalosis is caused by too much bicarbonate in the blood. It can also occur due to certain kidney diseases.

    Hypochloremic alkalosis is caused by an extreme lack or loss of chloride, such as from prolonged vomiting.

    Hypokalemic alkalosis is caused by the kidneys' response to an extreme lack or loss of potassium. This can occur from taking certain water pills (diuretics).

    Compensated alkalosis occurs when the body returns the acid-base balance to normal in cases of alkalosis, but bicarbonate and carbon dioxide levels remain abnormal.

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms of alkalosis can include any of the following:

    • Confusion (can progress to stupor or coma)
    • Hand tremor
    • Light-headedness
    • Muscle twitching
    • Nausea, vomiting
    • Numbness or tingling in the face, hands, or feet
    • Prolonged muscle spasms (tetany)
  • Exams and Tests

    The doctor will perform a physical exam and ask about your symptoms.

    Laboratory tests that may be ordered include:

    • Arterial blood gas analysis
    • Electrolytes test, such as basic metabolic panel to confirm alkalosis and show whether it is respiratory or metabolic alkalosis.

    Other tests may be needed to determine the cause of the alkalosis. These may include:

    • Urinalysis
    • Urine pH
  • Treatment

    To treat alkalosis, your health care provider needs to find the cause.

    For alkalosis caused by hyperventilation, breathing into a paper bag allows you to keep more carbon dioxide in your body, which improves the alkalosis. If your oxygen level is low, you may receive oxygen.

    Medicines may be needed to correct chemical loss (such as chloride and potassium). Your health care provider will monitor your vital signs (temperature, pulse, rate of breathing, blood pressure).

  • Outlook (Prognosis)

    Most cases of alkalosis respond well to treatment.

  • Possible Complications

    Untreated or not treated properly, complications may include any of the following:

    • Arrhythmias
    • Coma
    • Electrolyte imbalance (such as hypokalemia)
  • When to Contact a Medical Professional

    Call your health care provider if you become confused, unable to concentrate, or unable to "catch your breath."

    Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if there is:

    • Loss of consciousness
    • Rapidly worsening symptoms of alkalosis
    • Seizures
    • Severe breathing difficulties
  • Prevention

    Prevention depends on the cause of the alkalosis. Normally, people with healthy kidneys and lungs do not have serious alkalosis.

Related Information

  AcidosisRespiratory alkalo...Hyperventilation...ArrhythmiasElectrolytesLow potassium leve...    

References

Seifter JL. Acid-base disorders. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 120.

BACK TO TOP 

Review Date: 11/7/2013  

Reviewed By: Brent Wisse, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Nutrition, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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.

adam.com

 
A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Fire Fox and Google Chrome browser.