ACIDOSIS & ALKALOSIS

INTRODUCTION

—Acidosis and alkalosis describe the abnormal conditions that result from imbalance in the pH of the blood caused by an excess of acid or alkali.

—This imbalance is typically caused by some underlying conditions or disease.

—Normal blood pH must be maintained within a narrow range of 7.35-7.45 to ensure the proper functioning of metabolic processes and the delivery of the right amount of oxygen to tissues.

—Acidosis refers to an excess of acid in the blood that causes the pH to fall below 7.35 and the alkalosis refers to an excess of base in the blood that causes the pH to rise above 7.45. many conditions and diseases can interfere with pH control in the body and cause a person’s blood pH to fall outside of healthy limits.

—Normal body functions and metabolism generate large quantities of acids that must be neutralized and/or eliminated to maintain blood ph balance.

—Most of the acid is carbonic acid, which is created from carbon dioxide and water.

—Lesser quantities of lactic acid, ketoacids and other organic acids are also produced.

The lungs and kidneys are the major organs involved in regulating blood pH.

—The lungs flush acid out of the body by exhaling carbon dioxide. Raising and lowering the respiratory rate alters the amount of carbon dioxide that is breathed out and this can affect blood pH within minutes.

—The kidneys excrete acids in the urine and they regulate the concentration of bicarbonate in blood. Acid base changes due to increase or decreases in carbonate concentration occur more slowly than changes in carbon dioxide taking hours or days.

—Both of these processes are always at work and they keep the blood pH in healthy people tightly controlled.

—Buffering systems that resist changes in pH also contribute to the regulation of acid and base concentrations.

—The main buffers in blood are haemoglobin, plasma proteins, bicarbonate and phosphates.

—The absolute quantities of acids or bases are less important than the balance between the two and its effect on blood pH.

ACIDOSIS

It occurs when blood pH falls below 7.35. It can be due to-

—Increased acid production within the body.

—Consumption of substances that are metabolizes to acids

—Decreased acid excretion

—Increased excretion of base

ALKALOSIS

It occurs when blood pH rises above 7.45. It can be due to-

—Electrolyte disturbances caused by for example prolonged vomiting or severe dehydration

—Administration or consumption of base

—Hyperventilation (with increased excretion of acid in form of carbon dioxide)

—Any disease or condition that affects the lungs, kidneys, metabolism or breathing has the potential to cause acidosis or alkalosis.

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