Respiratory alkalosis is a condition that occurs once an individual breathes too fast in a continuous manner. One way to test if the rapid breathing is affecting the bloodstream is to undergo a test called as arterial blood gas. This test basically measures the level of carbon dioxide present in the blood and an X-ray is also carried out to check if there is any damage on the lungs.
What is respiratory alkalosis?
The body utilizes acids for different functions and the level is controlled by the lungs and the kidneys. The kidneys are responsible for controlling the acid level by releasing excess amounts in the form of urine while the lungs regulate the acid by releasing them in the form of carbon dioxide.
Respiratory alkalosis occurs once an individual breathes too quickly which is also called as hyperventilation. Due to the excessive breathing, it causes the carbon dioxide level in the body to drop. Understandably, this will lower the acid levels in the body and can lead to medical issues as the exhaling continues.
Effects on the body
The primary effects of respiratory alkalosis mainly focus on the lack of proper chemicals in the blood due to the quick release of carbon dioxide. It is important to note that these symptoms include dizziness that can eventually lead to fainting and a tingling sensation in the feet and hands. As the body continues to struggle with the decreasing level of carbon dioxide, the tingling sensation in the feet and hands will start to develop into numbness.
If the condition is left to progress, other symptoms will manifest such as rapid heartbeat, chest pain, muscle cramping that can be accompanied with spasm and seizures. The heart will also start to struggle to supply the rest of the body and the inadequate amount of blood to the brain will lead to the manifestation of psychological symptoms such as irritability, anxiety and confusion.
The ideal way to treat respiratory alkalosis would require helping the body receive the carbon dioxide that it needs. In such cases, the first aid measure is to assist the individual to breathe into a paper bag to help recycle the carbon dioxide that escapes and restore the breathing to normal. In the hospital, the individual can be given a mask that provides carbon dioxide directly from a breathing tank. The moment the level of carbon dioxide in the body has been restored, the symptoms will go away on their own.
Important considerations to bear in mind
A common cause of respiratory alkalosis is anxiety or stress. In most cases, respiratory alkalosis is also called as an anxiety attack. Always remember that the continuous lack of carbon dioxide can be dangerous. Once a doctor is consulted, the condition can be treated by offering ways to minimize the anxiety or use medications that will help the individual calm down and breathe normally.