Ill try to cover the basis of alkalosis/alkalinity like I did with acidosis in part 2 as much as I can, but I will be discussing this more in part 4/4 when I cover the alkaline diet and its pro and cons, So I apologise if theres not much information 🙂
The lungs and kidneys maintain a balance of chemicals (acids and bases) in the body. When there is a change of either an acid or base, acidosis or alkalosis occurs.
Alkalosis occurs when there is an excess of base in the blood that causes the pH to rise above 7.45. (Remember: the lower the pH the more basic, the higher the pH the more acidic) There are 2 types of alkalosis- metabolic and respiratory.
Respiratory alkalosis is the result of low carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the blood due to breathing excessively (hyperventilation) This can occur from fevers, being at high altitude, anxiety, neural pain, coffee and caffeine abuse (they act as a central nervous system stimulant) pneumonia and pregnancy.
Symptoms can include light confusion, dizziness, fainting, light-headedness, stomach nausea and numbness in the hands and feet. Chronic respiratory alkalosis can lead to low levels of phosphate (important in electrolytes for stabilising body fluids) and low calcium levels (hypoglycaemia). Both nutrients are important because they ‘work’ with each other for renal and thyroid (TSH) function.
It’s important to note anxiety may not be the main cause so its recommended you consult your doctor if you have any concerns. Also, respiratory alkalosis is not life-threatening and can be treated.
Metabolic alkalosis occurs when there is an increase of bicarbonate (-HCO3) ( the by-product of metabolism which is excreted by the kidneys and then converted to CO2 before being exhaled out) in the blood stream.
During metabolic alkalosis, the body tries to compensate for this by decreasing the breathing rate. Yep, that’s correct – if you stop breathing or your breathing rate is decreased, then carbon dioxide (CO2) cannot be exhaled out of the body, meaning it builds up within your body. Because CO2 is acidic, this reacts with the base (bicarbonate) to cause the pH to drop back down to normal or as close to homeostasis as possible. This is your ‘resting’ state of breathing.
The most common cause of metabolic alkalosis is hydrochloric acid loss (acid in stomach) from prolonged vomiting. When you do not have enough HCl in your gastric lining, digestion issues occur, including undigested food in the stomach becoming fermented and causing gut dysbiosis… but we’ll leave that for another post (Sorry!) Other causes include any form of liver disease, carbohydrate re-feeding after starvation, diuretic use, hypokalemia (a severe loss of potassium, which is needed for waste removal from the body) , laxative overuse, severe dehydration and some antibiotics, including penicillin.
Metabolic alkalosis symptoms can include feeling lethargic, headaches and muscle weakness and cramps…
And thats alkalosis! Not too much information, but I hope you’ve learnt something new… be sure to STAY TUNED for the LAST instalment of the body pH series:
PART 4/4: Energise your life with the Alkaline Diet- Pros and Cons
where ill be talking WHAT the alkaline diet its, WHY its a popular diet with celebrities, HOW you can benefit from it including the cons, and the RELATIONSHIP between alkalinity and cancer.
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.
Cho Kerry C, “Chapter 21. Electrolyte & Acid-Base Disorders” (Chapter). McPhee SJ, Papadakis MA: CURRENT Medical Diagnosis & Treatment 2011: http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=10909.