Is Respiratory Alkalosis?
Respiratory alkalosis occurs when the levels of carbon
dioxide and oxygen in the blood are not balanced.
Your body needs oxygen to function properly. When you
inhale, you introduce oxygen into the lungs. When you exhale, you release carbon
dioxide, which is a waste product. Normally, the respiratory system keeps these
two gases in balance.
Respiratory alkalosis occurs when carbon dioxide levels drop
too low. This causes the pH of the blood to rise and become too alkaline. When
the blood becomes too acidic, respiratory acidosis occurs.
and Respiratory Alkalosis
Hyperventilation is typically the underlying cause of
respiratory alkalosis. Hyperventilation is also known as overbreathing. Someone
who is hyperventilating breathes very deeply or rapidly.
Causes of Hyperventilation
Panic attacks and anxiety are the most common causes of
hyperventilation. However, they’re not the only possible causes. Others include:
- heart attack
- drug use
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- pulmonary embolism
If you’re experiencing hyperventilation (especially for the
first time), don’t assume you know the cause. Make an appointment with your
of Respiratory Alkalosis
Overbreathing is a sign that respiratory alkalosis is likely to
develop. However, low carbon dioxide levels in the blood also have a number of
physical effects, including:
- feeling light-headed
- numbness and/or muscle spasms in the hands and
- discomfort in the chest area
- dry mouth
- tingling in the arms
- heart palpitations
- feeling short of breath
for Respiratory Alkalosis
Panic and Anxiety-Related Causes
Treating the condition is a matter of raising carbon dioxide
levels in the blood. The following strategies and tips are useful for
respiratory alkalosis caused by overbreathing due to panic and anxiety.
Breathe into a paper bag.
This is a very simple strategy. It can also be very
effective. Fill the bag with carbon dioxide by exhaling into it. Then, breathe
the exhaled air from the bag back into the lungs. Doing this several times can
give the body the carbon dioxide it needs to bring levels back up to where they
The symptoms of respiratory alkalosis can be frightening.
This often causes faster and deeper breathing, making things worse. Having a
calm loved one provide reassurance could help get your breathing under control.
Restrict oxygen intake into the lungs.
To do this, try breathing while pursing the lips or
breathing through one nostril. For the second approach to be useful, the mouth
and the other nostril need to be covered.
The above strategies are very simple ways to address respiratory
alkalosis. People who often experience overbreathing due to anxiety can use
these methods at home.
Anyone experiencing overbreathing and the symptoms of
respiratory alkalosis for the first time should go to the hospital right
away. The strategies described in the previous section should only be
used if a doctor has confirmed the exact cause of overbreathing. Overbreathing
symptoms are very similar to symptoms of other serious health conditions.
from Respiratory Alkalosis
The recovery process depends on the cause of respiratory
alkalosis. If you develop it due to overbreathing caused by conditions such as
anxiety, you can usually expect to recover fully. Symptoms should disappear
shortly after carbon dioxide levels in the blood are brought back to normal.
In other cases, it may be a true medical emergency. The
outlook will then depend on the severity of the underlying cause.
Can Respiratory Alkalosis Be Prevented?
Prevention is a matter of addressing the cause of the
hyperventilation. The most common causes are psychological: stress, panic, and
anxiety. You can adjust to and learn to control these causes.
Working with a therapist may help. So can breathing
exercises, meditation, and regular exercise. Medication may be needed in some
Good coping strategies for these types of issues are
crucial. They can help lower the risk of hyperventilation and the resulting
respiratory alkalosis. They can also help you function better overall in