Acid-base disorder

acid-base disorder

Acid-base disorders refer to disruptions in the balance of acids and bases (alkaline substances) in the body, leading to abnormal pH levels in the blood. The body tightly regulates the pH to maintain normal physiological functions. The primary components involved in acid-base balance are bicarbonate (HCO3-), carbon dioxide (CO2), and hydrogen ions (H+).

There are four main types of acid-base disorders:

  1. Respiratory Acidosis:
  • Cause: Buildup of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the blood due to inadequate removal by the respiratory system.
  • Effect: Increased levels of carbonic acid (H2CO3) lead to decreased blood pH.
  • Common Causes: Respiratory depression, lung diseases (e.g., chronic obstructive pulmonary disease - COPD), airway obstruction.
  1. Respiratory Alkalosis:
  • Cause: Excessive elimination of carbon dioxide from the body.
  • Effect: Decreased levels of carbonic acid result in increased blood pH.
  • Common Causes: Hyperventilation (e.g., anxiety, fever), mechanical ventilation.
  1. Metabolic Acidosis:
  • Cause: Increased production of metabolic acids or loss of bicarbonate.
  • Effect: Decreased blood pH and bicarbonate levels.
  • Common Causes: Diabetic ketoacidosis, lactic acidosis, renal failure, severe diarrhea.
  1. Metabolic Alkalosis:
  • Cause: Loss of metabolic acids or increased bicarbonate levels.
  • Effect: Increased blood pH and bicarbonate levels.
  • Common Causes: Vomiting, excessive use of antacids, certain diuretic medications.

Diagnosis and management of acid-base disorders involve assessing blood gas values, electrolyte levels, and clinical history. The arterial blood gas (ABG) test is commonly used to measure pH, partial pressure of carbon dioxide (PaCO2), and bicarbonate levels.

Treatment depends on the underlying cause of the disorder. For example, in respiratory acidosis, improving ventilation may be necessary, while in metabolic acidosis, addressing the underlying metabolic issue (e.g., correcting diabetes in diabetic ketoacidosis) is crucial. In severe cases, medical interventions such as administration of bicarbonate or respiratory support may be required.

Management of acid-base disorders should be carried out by healthcare professionals based on individual patient characteristics and the specific underlying condition. If you suspect an acid-base disorder, it’s important to seek medical attention for proper diagnosis and management.