Respiratory alkalosis

  • Definition
    • Respiratory alkalosis is a condition marked by low levels of carbon dioxide in the blood due to breathing excessively.

      See also: Alkalosis

  • Alternative Names
    • Alkalosis - respiratory

  • Causes
    • Common causes include:

      Any lung disease that leads to shortness of breath can also cause respiratory alkalosis (such as pulmonary embolism and asthma).

  • Symptoms
    • The symptoms may include:

      • Dizziness
      • Light-headedness
      • Numbness of the hands and feet
  • Exams and Tests
    • Your doctor or nurse will perform a physical exam. Tests that may be done include:

  • Treatment
    • 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.

  • Outlook (Prognosis)
    • What will happen depends on the condition that is causing the respiratory alkalosis.

  • Possible Complications
    • Seizures may occur if the alkalosis is extremely severe. This is very rare.

  • When to Contact a Medical Professional
    • Call your health care provider if you have any symptoms of lung disease, such as chronic cough or shortness of breath.

  • References
    • 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.