Acidosis and alkalosis cases can be classified according to nature be it metabolic or respiratory. The resulting condition can either be compensated or meaning that the lungs or kidneys are taking actions and necessary steps to correct the presence of the imbalance or it is uncompensated.
Respiratory Acidosis and Alkalosis
Naturally, the lungs are capable of maintaining pH balance. A deviation to the normal system results in the imbalance of Ph levels and signifies the failure of the respiratory system to perform is obligatory action. Adequacy of respiratory function can be determined by just studying one component of the respiratory cycle and that is the partial pressure of carbon dioxide. During normal respiratory cycle, the partial pressure of carbon dioxide fluctuates between the 35 and 45 mm Hg mark. To put it simply, higher value indicates respiratory acidosis and lower value points toward respiratory alkalosis.
Among all acid-base imbalances, respiratory acidosis is considered the most common cause. Diseases such as emphysema, cystic fibrosis and pneumonia most often than not leads to respiratory acidosis since it predispose a person to breathe shallowly and hamper gas exchange. With the mentioned conditions, there is a buildup of carbon dioxide in the blood and this gives the sign of respiratory acidosis which is falling blood pH and there is rising partial pressure of carbon dioxide.
Remember that the stimulus for breathing is carbon dioxide. What happens during respiratory alkalosis is that carbon dioxide is eliminated from the body faster than it is produced. This causes the blood to be more alkaline. Stress or pain is the usual cause of respiratory alkalosis.
Metabolic Acidosis and Alkalosis
Metabolic acidosis is believed to be the second most common cause of acid-base imbalance. It is characterized by having low levels of pH in the blood together with low levels of bicarbonate. Persistent diarrhea and ingestion of too much alcohol are only a few of the reasons for having metabolic acidosis. Metabolic alkalosis on the other hand is characterized by an increase in the levels of pH of the blood and the levels of bicarbonate. Frequent and prolonged vomiting contributes to acquiring metabolic alkalosis.
Effects of Acidosis and Alkalosis
The range of pH known to is between 1 and 14, having 7 as the midpoint being neutral. It is amazing to think that in order for human life to survive, blood pH has to be within the short range of 7.0 and 7.8. If the level of pH of the blood goes below the 7.0 mark, it has a critical effect on the nervous system. The person goes into coma because the low pH level depresses the central nervous system and then death soon follows. On the contrary, when the pH level of the blood rises above the 7.8 mark, the exact opposite happens and the nervous system is overexcited. This leads to visible characteristics like convulsion, muscle tetany and extreme nervousness. The cause of death for this condition is respiratory arrest.