What is the definition of Respiratory Alkalosis?

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

What are the alternative names for Respiratory Alkalosis?

Alkalosis - respiratory

What are the causes for Respiratory Alkalosis?

Common causes include:

  • Anxiety or panic
  • Fever
  • Overbreathing (hyperventilation)
  • Pregnancy (this is normal)
  • Pain
  • Tumor
  • Trauma
  • Severe anemia
  • Liver disease
  • Overdose of certain medicines, such as salicylates, progesterone

Any lung disease that leads to shortness of breath can also cause respiratory alkalosis (such as pulmonary embolism and asthma).

What are the symptoms for Respiratory Alkalosis?

The symptoms may include:

  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Numbness of the hands and feet
  • Breathlessness
  • Confusion
  • Chest discomfort

What are the current treatments for Respiratory Alkalosis?

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 when anxiety is the main cause of the condition.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Respiratory Alkalosis?

Outlook depends on the condition that is causing the respiratory alkalosis.

What are the possible complications for Respiratory Alkalosis?

Seizures may occur if the alkalosis is extremely severe. This is very rare and more likely to happen if the alkalosis is due to increased ventilation from a breathing machine.

When should I contact a medical professional for Respiratory Alkalosis?

Call your provider if you have any symptoms of lung disease, such as long-term (chronic) cough or shortness of breath.

Respiratory system

REFERENCES

Effros RM, Swenson ER. Acid-base balance. In: Broaddus VC, Mason RJ, Ernst JD, et al, eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 7.

Seifter JL. Acid-base disorders. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 110.

Strayer RJ. Acid-base disorders. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 116.

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