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Respiratory alkalosis


Definition:

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

See also: Alkalosis

Alternative Names:

Alkalosis - respiratory

Causes, incidence, and risk factors:

Common causes include:

Any lung disease that leads to shortness of breath can also cause respiratory alkalosis.

Symptoms:

The symptoms may include:

  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Numbness of the hands and feet
Signs and tests:

Your doctor or nurse will perform a physical exam. Tests that may be done include:

Treatment:

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.

Expectations (prognosis):

What will happen depends on the condition that is causing the respiratory alkalosis.

Complications:

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

Calling 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.

References:

Seifter JL. Acid-base disorders. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 120.

Effros RM, Swenson ER. Acid-base balance. In: Mason RJ, Broaddus CV, Martin TR, et al. Murray & Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 7.


Review Date: 9/1/2012
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 2002 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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