Respiratory alkalosis is a condition marked by low levels of carbon dioxide in the blood due to breathing excessively.
See also: Alkalosis
Causes of Respiratory alkalosis
Common causes include:
- Pregnancy (this is normal)
Any lung disease that leads to shortness of breath can also cause respiratory alkalosis (such as pulmonary embolism and asthma).
Respiratory alkalosis Symptoms
The symptoms may include:
- Numbness of the hands and feet
Tests and Exams
Your doctor or nurse will perform a physical exam. Tests that may be done include:
- Arterial blood gas, which measures oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the blood
- Basic metabolic panel
- Chest x-ray
- Pulmonary function test
Treatment of Respiratory alkalosis
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.
What will happen depends on the condition that is causing the respiratory alkalosis.
Seizures may occur if the alkalosis is extremely severe. This is very rare.
When to Contact a Health Professional
Call your health care provider if you have any symptoms of lung disease, such as chronic cough or shortness of breath.
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: Elsevier Saunders; 2010:chap 7.
Seifter JL. Acid-base disorders. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 120.
|Review Date: 8/25/2014
Reviewed By: Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.