alkalosis is a medical concept used to name excess
alkalinity in the bloodstream. Alkalinity, on the other hand, refers
to the alkaline: which has the metallic hydroxyl called alkali.
Returning to the notion of alkalosis, it is a picture that arises from the
increase in alkalinity of the blood, which happens to present an excessive level
of alkali (a base). The opposite is acidosis,
a condition derived from increased acid.
Alkalosis, thus, reveals a disorder of the hydroelectrolytic type. Since
the kidneys and lungs are in charge of regulating the level of bases and acids
in the body, these disorders are linked to a rise in the amount
of bicarbonate or to a drop in carbon dioxide.
When there is an elevated level of bicarbonate in the blood,
it is called metabolic alkalosis. In this case, it is possible
to differentiate between hypokalemic alkalosis (the kidney
reacts to the loss of potassium by a diuretic or another cause), hypochloremic
alkalosis (reaction of the kidney against the drop in the level of
chloride, which may be due to vomiting) and compensated alkalosis (the
body manages to balance bases and acids, despite the fact that carbon dioxide
and bicarbonate are still in abnormal amounts).
The respiratory alkalosis, moreover, arises when an
individual is in a place with low oxygen (for example, at very high
altitude). This reduction of oxygen in the blood encourages respiration and
leads to excessive loss of carbon dioxide. To compensate for alkalosis, the
kidney drives increased bicarbonate excretion.
Regarding the symptoms of alkalosis, the list is relatively
extensive and includes the following:
* confusion, which can lead to coma or stupor, a
term that in medicine is defined as a decrease in intellectual
functions that takes place together with an apparent attitude of indifference or
* tremors in the hands;
* loss of balance and dizziness;
* nausea and vomiting;
* muscle fasciculations, that is, slight contractions of the
muscles that occur involuntarily and that do not generate the movements of
the limbs but can be seen under the skin;
* prolonged muscle cramps, also known as muscle spasms. It
is the result of involuntary muscle tension without the corresponding relaxation
* tingling or numbness of any limb, such as the feet or
hands, or the face.
With regard to the characteristics of a medical consultation focused on
alkalosis, it is normal for the doctor to perform a physical examination of the
patient and ask questions related to the symptoms that he has noticed. You can
then ask for the following two laboratory tests:
* an arterial blood gas, a measurement of the level of
oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood, which also serves to know its degree of
* basic metabolic tests, among which the electrolyte
test stands out, in order to confirm the presence of alkalosis and
determine if it is metabolic or respiratory.
Treatment for alkalosis cannot be defined until the doctor has found the
cause. If we take the case of alkalosis caused by hyperventilation, for example,
it is common to recommend placing a paper bag in front of the mouth to
breathe inside it and thus ensure that so much carbon dioxide is not
lost from the body. The administration of certain medications is also possible
to solve the loss of potassium and chloride, among other chemicals. In general,
patients with alkalosis manage to overcome it with the indicated treatment.