Balancing Act II

nobody likes a show off

nobody likes a show off

And we’re back. This is part dos of our discussion about pH balance and if you didn’t read part I well then I’ll wait for you to do that now. No seriously, these two articles go together like beans and rice, ebony and ivory…’cause they’re bad boyz 4 life. Check it out…Monday morning, essay test!

So we left off with respiratory and metabolic acidosis, which was a heart warming tale all by itself, but primarily dealt with how the body adjusts to increased blood acidity, or a lowering of blood pH. Then you asked “what happens when the blood pH is too high” and I was so impressed by that question that I dedicated another article just to answer it. Nice Job!

Respiratory Alkalosis – Got CO2?

Remember hemoglobin, that fun protein in our red cells that binds both oxygen and carbon dioxide? Well the CO2 doesn’t bind to the same site on the molecule but it does alter the molecule’s ability to bind more oxygen. If the reverse happens with increased levels of oxygen, then there are less seats available for the CO2 to sit. This sets up the conditions for a decreased partial pressure of CO2 (hypocapnia) which makes the blood sad. When this raises the blood pH we call it respiratory alkalosis.

Some of the main clinical signs that someone is going into this type of respiratory funk include hyperventilation, tingling, and numbness (and not in that fun “I can feel it working” kind of way).

Then cue the Kidney’s…

The kidneys of course respond by conserving H+ ions, which means that there is decreased secretion of H+ and so no H+ is joining with HPO4 to be excreted in the urine as H2PO4. There is also more HCOexcreted in the urine so that the pH scale can balance yet again.

Metabolic Alkalosis – Kidneys say it aint so

This whole drama happens when there is a reduction in a non-volatile acid in the balance equation or when there is an excess of HCOin the plasma. For example, vomiting causes a loss in HCL while HCO3 stays behind (not a pleasant example I know but I did it for science). This could be caused by primary hyperaldosteronism, vomiting, and of course ingesting large amounts of an alkaline substance (don’t do that, they call that poisoning yourself where I’m from).

And well I think that’s all I have to say about that….for now. Stay curious, stay classy, and never stop learning my friends.

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