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Respiratory Alkalosis

Respiratory alkalosis is a condition of excessive alkalinity of the body, most often associated with respiratory (breathing) disorders. The pH (a measure of acidity) is elevated and carbon dioxide levels are reduced.

Common causes include hyperventilation (increased rate of breathing), anxiety, and fever. The symptoms may include light-headedness, dizziness, and numbness of the hands and feet.

The treatment includes removal of the cause. Breathing into a paper bag (or use of a mask that causes re-breathing of carbon dioxide) helps reduce symptoms in some cases.

Causes and risks
Any lung disease that leads to shortness of breath may result in respiratory alkalosis. Fever and anxiety are also common causes of hyperventilation.

The two primary symptoms are light-headedness and numbness

Signs and tests
Respiratory alkalosis is diagnosed by an arterial blood gas (ABG), and chest X-ray or pulmonary function tests may be done to diagnose possible lung disease.

Treatment is aimed at the disease that causes hyperventilation and respiratory alkalosis.  Life-threatening respiratory alkalosis is very rare.

The prognosis is based on the disease that causes the respiratory alkalosis

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

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

Source: U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM)

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Last modified: June 17, 2002