Health Information

Respiratory alkalosis

Respiratory alkalosis


Alkalosis - respiratory

Respiratory alkalosis is a condition marked by low levels of carbon dioxide in the blood due to breathing excessively.

See also: Alkalosis

I Would Like to Learn About:

  • Causes

    Common causes include:

    • Anxiety
    • Fever
    • Hyperventilation

    Any lung disease that leads to shortness of breath can also cause respiratory alkalosis.

  • Symptoms

    The symptoms may include:

    • Dizziness
    • Lightheadedness
    • Numbness of the hands and feet
  • Exams and Tests

    Your doctor or nurse will perform a physical exam. Tests that may be done include:

    • Arterial blood gas, which measures oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the blood
    • Basic metabolic panel
    • Chest x-ray
    • Pulmonary function test
  • Treatment

    Treatment is aimed at the condition that causes respiratory alkalosis. Breathing into a paper bag -- or using a mask that causes you to re-breathe carbon dioxide -- sometimes helps reduce symptoms.

  • Outlook (Prognosis)

    What will happen depends on the condition that is causing the respiratory alkalosis.

  • Possible Complications

    Seizures may occur if the alkalosis is extremely severe. This is very rare.

  • When to Contact a Medical Professional

    Call your health care provider if you have any symptoms of lung disease, such as chronic cough or shortness of breath.

Related Information



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

Effros RM, Swenson ER. Acid-base balance. In: Mason RJ, Broaddus CV, Martin TR, et al. Murray & Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 7.


Review Date: 9/1/2012  

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 David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.

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