The degree of acidity or alkalinity is an important property of our blood. The acidity level increases with the increase in the level of acidic compounds in our body, or when the level of basic (also known as alkaline) compounds present in our body falls. The alkalinity level in our body increases when the reverse takes place, i.e., when the level of acidic compounds falls or when the basic compounds in the body increase. The acidity or alkalinity of any solution is indicated on the pH scale. Even a minor shift from the normal range can destroy our organs. Generally, the normal acidic level (pH) of our blood is close to 7.4. When the pH level falls below 7.35, then we say that acidosis has occurred. On the other hand, when the pH goes above 7.45, then we say that alkalosis has occurred. We have a severe case of the former, when the pH value of blood goes below 7.0; while a severe case of the latter can occur when the pH value goes above 7.5. Let us now see what are the various causes and problems of acidosis and alkalosis.
- Certain diseases, like emphysema or kidney failures often reduce the efficiency of the lungs or the kidneys respectively. This reduces their ability to regulate the acidic level in our body.
- If you starve yourself or if you have diabetes, then, by the metabolism of large amounts of body fats, excessive acid is produced.
- Excess protein intake might be a cause.
- Ingestion of a large amount of acidic substances is a major reason.
- Severe diarrhea causes excessive loss of body fluid. This is a major cause.
- Loss of carbonic acid due to rapid breathing is also another cause.
- Excessive vomiting leads to loss of hydrochloric acid.
- Excessive intake of sodium bicarbonate to relieve the acid in stomach causes temporary metabolic alkalosis.
Two major problems might arise - respiratory and metabolic acidosis and alkalosis. Let us now see what each means.
When our lungs do not expel the carbon dioxide in adequate amount, a problem which might occur after we have suffered from certain lung infections or diseases, that is when we have this disorder. This can also occur when the diseases of the brain, nerves, or the muscles of the chest create problems in breathing. This problem may also arise when people take in lots of drugs or narcotics, which causes difficulty in breathing.
- Headaches or drowsiness
- Stupor and coma
- Problems in breathing
Functioning of the lungs has to be improved. For people who are suffering from lung diseases, drugs are given to them to open the airways so that air can pass freely. Sometimes, mechanical ventilation are also needed to help in the breathing process.
It usually occurs when the acid level in our blood increases due to ingestion of a substance that contains acid, or that can be broken down into acid. It may also occur due to abnormal metabolism. Also, if the kidneys are not in a proper working condition, then even normal production of acid, cannot be excreted through urine.
- Nausea, vomiting, and fatigue are common.
- Body tries to correct the acid level by producing more of carbon dioxide, hence breathing becomes slightly faster.
- In severe cases, people feel weak, drowsy, and confused.
- They also become extremely nauseated
- Blood pressure may fall, which leads to shock, coma, or even death.
Treatment depends upon the cause. If diabetes is the cause, then there will be a need to control it with the use of insulin. If there is poisoning, then the treatment is to remove the toxin from the blood.
Too much anxiety often leads to hyperventilation or deep breathing, which releases too much carbon dioxide into our blood stream. The other causes, which lead to hyperventilation are pain, less oxygen in our blood, fever, overdose of aspirins or drugs, etc.
The rate of breathing has to be slowed down. The patient is asked to breathe in and out into a paper bag (and not a plastic bag). Breathing in and out the carbon dioxide helps raise the level of the same in the blood.
When our body either gains too much base or loses too much acid, then we have this problem. It also occurs if a person has ingested too much base from a substance.
There are various diagnostic tests, which are carried out by the doctors. They usually treat by giving dilute acid.
The symptoms of both the problems are as follows:
- Muscle twitching and cramps
- Prolonged contraction of muscles (in severe cases)
So, there you have the causes, problems, symptoms, and various treatments. So, if you are facing any problems or showing any signs of the same, go to a doctor immediately before your condition worsens.