Fun Facts – A Touch of Gray

ImageOh yes, it WILL happen to you. Don’t worry it happens to all of us, aging that is. More specifically, gray hairs happen. That’s right our bodies, unlike diamonds, aren’t forever. Hair follicles lose their pigment as we age. There is a family of pigments in our bodies called melanins that contribute to hair and skin coloration. So whether your complexion is Godiva, chocolate brown like Djimon Hounsou, salted caramel like Rosario Dawson (call me), or slow churned vanilla like Olivia Wilde, you have melanin to thank. Oh man, all this talk about race makes me want ice cream.

Anyway…

Hair is like sea coral. Yes, that’s random…try to focus. Much of the underlying structure of a coral is the deposited, calcium carbonate remains of dead cells that harden and accumulate while new cells grow over top of the layers. The structural anatomy of a hair follicle is actually curiously complex but the portion of that follicle that we see protruding from the skin (the hair shaft) is just the deposited remains of dead keratinocytes (keratin containing cells). However, unlike coral, the living cells are underneath. Keratin is the crazy strong protein that gives hair, nails, and skin their structure and durability. That same protein that allows Scarlett Johansson’s golden locks to flutter in the wind are what make a rhino’s horns hard enough to dent the door of a Jeep when the tourists get too close.

Clusters of rapidly dividing keratinocytes at the root of the follicle team up to produce keratin. Cell division and keratin production creates a dense mass of material that builds from the bottom up. Meanwhile, bordering those feisty root cells are melanocytes that pass their melanin granules to the keratin producing cells. So even as the cells die they retain whatever color was passed on.

As we age melanocytes become less active and die off and so more and more hair shafts reach the surface without pigment. So just to be clear, your body doesn’t produce gray hairs. It simply stops producing melanin pigment within the hair follicles. The resulting hair strand is actually colorless.

Now the rate at which our hair loses its color is largely genetic. In know, genetics seem to be the new cop-out answer. It’s like when they use “instinct” to explain why ducks fly south for the winter. However, this time we have to point the finger at inheritance for our sexy, silver sheen.

Stay classy, stay curious, and never stop learning my friends :-)

That Dizziness Thing

spinning-merry-go-round_medium

After two pink bags of cotton candy all the rides were a little blurry that day.

Ok brace yourself, because I’m about to make a painfully obvious statement. Sometimes what we say we’re feeling and what we are actually feeling is not the same thing. Yes, you do it too. Oh yes you do! Do I need to call your mom and let her know your pants are on fire? Listen, I don’t want to fight about this, but I will say that there are a handful of terms good people like you and I use to tell our doctors what we’re feeling because we don’t know any better. For example, when was the last time you felt dizzy? Perhaps I should say lightheaded, or that you felt like you were going to faint (presyncope). Maybe you felt like the room was spinning (vertigo).

We use “Dizzy” to describe all of these sensations when in fact sometimes we’re only experiencing one of them. When the teenager behind the counter at the ice cream shop takes your order you don’t say “give me two scoops of the really cold kind” do you? Sometimes names matter. Well get ready, because we’re about to get technical.

big-az-balloons-3

Hey Buddy, maybe you should sit down. You look like you need a juice box.

Light headedness is typically the result of a sudden drop in blood pressure (hypotension). Our bodies are a lot like one of those giant, dancing balloon characters outside of a used auto dealership. You cut off the fan (the air flow) and the balloon man falls to the ground. Well when our fan shuts off (our blood flow to the head is restricted) we faint. We refer to this as “syncope.” That feeling that we are about to faint is “presyncope.” We can also experience the lightheaded blues when we stand up too fast and we refer to this as “orthostatic hypotension,” where the blood flow is affected by the positioning of the body. Ok blah blah…that’s all very interesting (yawn), but I want to get to the good part, vertigo.

Vertigo is CRAZY interesting. Actually, for the rest of this article I’m just going to talk about vertigo. Everything else is dead to me.

Vertigo is a profound sensation of disorientation. You can have the feeling that the room is spinning or that you are spinning. You can also experience the sensation of falling or that the ground or room is tilting. All of these trippy sensations can make you feel incredibly off balance and often lead to nausea.

All of these sensations are caused by a malfunction (minor or severe) in the way your brain is receiving information from the balance organs of the body. What kind of malfunctions you ask? Well if the possible causes of vertigo were a dusty road in New Mexico that split in two, one road sign would read “sensory neural pathway” and the other would read “organs of the inner ear.” Need more? As the comedian Bernie Mac used to say, “Let me break it down for you like a fraction.”

Your brain talks to your body constantly. Like an overprotective mother the brain asks your eyes “where are you? What are you doing right now? What do you see?” However, Mother is just looking out for us, taking that visual input and coordinating our skeletal muscles/motor control to maintain an upright posture and orient the fluid within our inner ear like the bubble in a carpenter’s level (see fig. 2) so that we have an accurate perception of up and down, left and right, backwards and forwards. That intimate communication between brain, eyes, and motor control is referred to as the vestibulo-ocular reflex. Go ahead and click this link

https://forgottenphysiology.com/2013/12/19/me-talk-pretty-vestibulo-ocular-reflex/

it won’t bite 🙂

Balance is in your ears?

This balancing act is brought to you by our inner ear. The physical interaction of sound waves within the intricate, spiraled canal of bone called the cochlea in conjunction with the stimulation of auditory nerves are largely responsible for how we hear sound. However, one of the more mystifying tricks our inner ear can perform is that of our perception of balance. Alright, we need to zoom in on this thing. Look down there…

2191_ear_anatomy_450

ok keep your eyes on the swirlie, looping purple thing (labyrinth of the inner ear) in the diagram. This is where the magic happens.

No no, I mean closer than that…

inner-ear

Welcome to the Labyrinth of the inner Ear

how-clean-repair-gutters-5

A special thanks to Thing for demonstrating the Carpenter’s level

This structure has more twists and turns than a back road in Lexington, Virginia so I’m only focusing on two main parts for now, the semicircular canal and the otoliths. That reminds me, how familiar are you with building houses? That’s ok, just look to the right of the screen. See that’s a carpenter’s level. Builders set it on top of fence posts, center blocks, steel support beams and anything else they need to have level with the ground. That bubble in the center tells them how far off they are. Inside each ear are three very similar structures, semicircular canals, made from bone and tissue that your brain communicates with to maintain rotational balance and orientation (like when you’re busy doing back flips like Night Crawler from X-men). These are tiny, fluid filled canals that loop parallel and perpendicular to each other. That itty bitty amount of fluid inside pushes on the hairs of a structure called a cupula that translates that mechanical movement of the fluid into an electrical message that tells the brain something like “hey, this guy’s doing a cartwheel.” You have three of these in each ear; anterior, posterior, and horizontal that correspond to vertical, horizontal, and diagonal rotations of the body.

The more you learn about the structures of the inner ear the more this all begins to sound like some freaky game of pinball, but we’re not done. The otolithic organs allow us to sense linear acceleration by aid of tiny crystals suspended in viscous fluid [I always thought the term viscous was kind of creepy, but that’s just me]. We have two otolithic organs on each side; the urticle, and the saccule. The urticle is tuned-in to horizontal movement and the saccule is all about the verticle changes in position.

The otolith organ is this crazy looking sac of fluid with a cluster of sensitive hairs. The fluid as I mentioned before is thick, viscous and contains a lot of tiny calcium carbonate crystals that make it grainy as well. So when the head moves this nasty substance produces friction against the hairs and that inertia is translated into vertical and horizontal linear movement by the brain.

Back to Vertigo

When you are suffering from vertigo disruption of the balance organs (especially those of the inner ear) and the sensory neural pathways that talk to those organs are typically suspected. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is common when there is inflammation from infections or injections. If inflammation is significant enough it can disrupt the movement of otolith crystals within the inner ear, sending mixed signals to the brain. That can definitely make you feel like you went too many seconds on the mechanical bull in Salt Lake City.

Brother, what a night it really was...

Brother, what a night it really was…

Stay curious, stay classy, and never stop learning my friends 🙂

Hiccups – the Devil’s plaything

devill

Is that the same devil you had in mind? Twins!!

There’s public radio telethon week, toll roads, vending machines that give you Diet Pepsi when you clearly pushed the “Coke” button, and near the top of the list are hiccups. These are a few of my least favorite things. Oh, you know this guy loves the human body. There are few marvels in this world more elegant, more profoundly complex than the body and it’s nuts and bolts, but son of a [CENSORED], hiccups are the devil! I seriously doubt that a successful pick up line has ever been delivered while battling with the hiccups. Hiccups lie in wait like mean-spirited hecklers waiting to kill the mood of your acceptance speech or interrupt the punch line of your best dirty joke. So in this episode of Forgotten physiology we’ll pose the question; Hiccups, what’s your deal?

Yes, I prefer to think of my hiccups as the old men from the muppet show
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGfx3QAV64M

Synchronous Diaphragmatic Flutter (or Miss Jackson if you’re nasty)

Mechanically speaking, hiccups are nothing more than spasms of the diaphragm; short, involuntary contractions forcing air through the windpipe that is then immediately closed off by the tough, elastic flap of the epiglottis. This closes off the vocal chords like a trap door that says “No more air for you! No!” and produces that signature, sexy frog sound of a classic hiccup.

KF5015

The phrenic nerves begin in the cervical vertebrate (C3-C5) and zip line down between the heart and lungs to connect with the diaphragm.

You have a left and right phrenic nerve that connect to the diaphragm to control its contractions and receive sensory input in return. “Sensory input?” Well sure, you don’t just blindly send out messages. You look for a response. Your nervous system is all touchy feely and needs to be able to sense where everything is…no organ left behind. Those nerves are the only electrical wiring operating the movement of the diaphragm. So any significant disruption or irritation of the phrenic nerves can cause spasms and ultimately hiccups. For example, if you just had a bad breakup and decided to go Tazmanian Devil on 2 large orders of pork fried rice from Wong’s Wok, a full or distended stomach can press on the phrenic nerves and trigger hiccups.

But who is really in control?

We may not think about it but the diaphragm is made of “skeletal” muscle. If you remember our chat from muscle mania, skeletal muscle is under the control of the somatic nervous system. This typically means that it is under our control. We can, for example, contract our diaphragm muscles ourselves and draw in a deep breath. However, we don’t exactly tell our diaphragms to spasm do we? Ahh…here’s where it gets interesting.

A thought experiment..

You and your body are one and the same right? I mean you don’t feel separate from your body do you? If I ask you to pass the mashed potatoes you don’t ask your hand to grab the bowl. Your brain and your hand flow together, without interruption.
Now think about a hiccup. Does that ever feel like something YOU did? No way, the hiccups happen as reflex and your brain gets the feedback. These are controlled by a “reflex arc,” neural pathways (composed networks of neuron cells) that connect to the spinal chord BEFORE reaching the brain. Some neural pathways have a long way to go to reach the brain, your central command center. The spinal chord works like an intermediary traffic control center, managing the local stuff and all the sensory input from the extremities. This allows motor reflexes to occur instantaneously without checking in at the office (brain) first. Your brain isn’t left out of the loop. The motor neurons of the spinal chord are simply the first to respond.

But why me? Why?!!!

Typically when we get the hiccups we were eating too much or eating too fast, drinking too fast, or hitting the sauce a little heavy (either alcohol or carbonated beverages). Episodes can also be brought on by excitement. I’ve always said that too much happiness is dangerous. These hiccups don’t last long and typically resolve on their own without tongue pulling or drinking water upside down.

There are of course persistent hiccups that are linked to an encyclopedia worth of clinical problems ranging from stress to heart issues to neurologic and metabolic disorders. So if 48 hours have gone by and you’ve still got the chirps then it’s probably a good time to see your doctor my friend.

Stay curious, stay classy, and never stop learning my friends 🙂

Baby, it’s cold outside!

WinterDog

you know that hat is very slimming

Here’s the truth of it. Mother Earth, the blue planet, our very own 3rd rock from the sun is perfect for us. By that I mean this planet has more than enough places (from Bangkok to New Jersey) that are both warm and cool enough for us to survive and thrive as a species. Our solar system is a rough neighborhood. Even on the surface of the moon there is at least a 450° F difference between standing in the light and the shade. So believe me brothers and sisters when I say that it is truly remarkable that we get to hitch a ride on this cosmic trolley called Earth.

sumo

Asashoryu is not impressed by your skinny jeans.

The human body has special needs. Our metabolism functions optimally within a narrow, warm fuzzy range between 36.5° C and 37.5° C (98-100° F). Most of us don’t climb much further than 98.6° F (hyperthermia) unless we’ve caught a nasty flu virus or overslept on a tanning bed. Now that is one tight range for homeostasis to be maintained. I’m talking tighter than a sumo wrestler in skinny jeans. This is the range where our enzymes can function optimally, where our cells can use energy stored in glucose, where blood can adequately deliver oxygen in exchange for carbon dioxide, and an [EXPLETIVE] load of other vital, biochemical gymnastics.

“Hypothermia” – is not an 80’s Hair Band

Medically speaking, hypothermia is the state at which your core body temperature drops below 35° C (95.0° F) but I’m willing to bet that for your core temperature to slide down even 3 degrees you’re already feeling pretty cold and have been for some time. If you put the lid on a warm cup of coffee and set it in the freezer you’d be lucky to find iced coffee waiting for you even a half hour later. The human body has water tight skin, fat tissue, body cavities, and many times the volume of a 16 oz cup of Joe. So when we get cold it’s the real thing and our body fights for us right up to the very end.

A word or two about Vasoconstriction

Consider that the blood flowing through our veins carries heat. So when we start to lose heat the blood becomes a kind of heat currency that the body gets mighty stingy with. So when the air gets frosty the blood will begin to move away from the small, surface vessels in the skin and concentrate its energy on the brain and other vital organs. The skin is also what is exposed to the cold air and where 90% of body’s heat is lost.

The Shiver

When it comes to survival by any means necessary my team captain will always be the hypothalamus. We actually have a shivering center of the brain located in the posterior hypothalamus, which is normally kept in check by the anterior portion of the hypothalamus. However, when the body’s core temperature drops just below it’s warm fuzzy range your posterior hypothalamus kicks in and says “everybody dance!” This leads to the short, rhythmic muscle contractions in an effort to generate heat.

So what happens when the big chill hits?

Stage 1 (mild – “Time to put the snow balls down and come inside”)

This occurs after a 1-2° drop in normal body temperature. Shivering, hypertension, tachycardia (heart rate over 100 rate/minute), and vasoconstriction (contriction of blood flow through vessels). Clinical cases vary in which hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia (high and low blood sugar) have occurred. The chances are roughly 50/50. As metabolism staggers the cells decrease their uptake of glucose and the tissue’s sensitivity to insulin becomes impaired allowing glucose to spill into the blood. This is a hyperglycemic state. However, having a low blood sugar to begin with (especially if you’ve been wandering around for hours in the cold) can accelerate the onset the onset of hypothermia.

Stage 2 (moderate – “Dude, you don’t look so good”)

Avatar-1

Loved that movie 🙂

This is seen after a 2-4° drop from normal. Ok we say moderate but by this point you’re pretty gosh dang cold and have been for some time. The surface vessels of the skin constrict, drawing blood to the vital organs, shivering, coordination, and mental state all worsen. Portions of the body rich in capillaries like fingers, toes, lips, ears (basically all the delicate parts most exposed to the air) all get pale and blue, and not in that sexy, Avatar kind of way.

Stage 3 (severe – “Somebody call an ambulance!”)

At this point the core temperature has dropped below 32° C and your body is pissed. The heart rate drops down to the 30s (normal resting heart rate for adults is at least 60 beats per minute), the respiratory rate decreases, the blood pressure drops. It’s like the temperature just turns your volume down. The vital organs are beginning to fail as metabolic functions stagger. Your muscle coordination and mental function are terrible by this point and you’d be lucky if you can unscrew the loose lid on a peanut butter jar or remember the words to “Happy Birthday.” Then something really, really strange tends to happen…

The Deadly Strip Tease

It’s a phenomenon referred to as paradoxical undressing. People at the edge of their sanity, in the most severe stages of hypothermia will begin taking off their clothes. They reach a state where they become hellah-confused, disoriented, and even violently aggressive where they just start shedding layers as if they were burning up. One theory is that by this point the body has been so beaten up that the signaling pathways of your hypothalamus are sending all the wrong messages like an evil cell phone that sends “let’s get back together” texts to all your ex’s. This is also associated with a “hide and die” syndrome (terminal burrowing). Victims are sometimes found curled up in small, hidden spaces. I don’t know physiology fans, perhaps in moments of extreme circumstance human beings simply switch back to our most primal selves.

So because I care here’s an ounce of prevention…

If you’re out in freezing temperatures stay dry (wet skin is a death sentence), wear multiple layers especially synthetic, poly blends that retain heat better then cotton, stay hydrated but avoid cold liquids that will just further lower your core temp, cover your head, and NO no no alcohol! It’s a vasodilator (increases blood flow in the vessels) drawing blood/heat to the extremities and thus away from your core. That rum n coke just isn’t worth it.

As always stay curious, stay classy, and never stop learning my friends 🙂

Hair Raising

images

electric razors just don’t give you that clean shave

That’s right brothers and sisters Halloween is one of my favorite Hallmark holidays. The candy, ghost stories, bad zombie makeup, and shapely women in revealing witch costumes all put me in the holiday spirit. I have to admit though, something has been bugging me. There I was, watching cheesy, poorly scripted thriller movies at 1am alone in my creepy old apartment. I’m watching one of those scenes where the woman in a low cut top is searching the basement with a flashlight for strange sounds when I feel the hairs raise on the back of my neck. “Why is that?” I think to myself. No, I know why MY hairs stood up. I’m a total wuss when it comes to ghost thrillers, but why does that physiological response happen to all of us when we get spooked?

scared cat

cat demonstrating pilomotor response to confrontation while walking the mean streets

Ancient roots

There is something you and your cat have in common that you may not know. Scientist refer to it as the pilomotor response. You may know it better as “goosebumps” when hundreds of tiny bumps raise on your arms and legs. If you’ve ever gotten out of the shower and stepped into the much cooler air outside of your bathroom that’s typically when you’ll notice them. Well cats display this same behavior when they are confronted by another aggressive cat telling him to “step off my turf” or something scarier like a dog or falling metal trash can. The hairs extend as they rise to their toes to appear as big as possible for competition or predators. Well the cool kids (scientists) believe that this phenomenon in human beings served a similar function. Well I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but humans beings today, version 5.0, aren’t nearly as hairy as our fiercer, planet of the apes ancestors.

goosebumpWell these days goose bumps are a “vestigial” response meaning it has out lived it’s original function. However, this involuntary reaction is still triggered by moments of intense stress and emotion like fear, exhilaration, and you know, moments of intense..um..inspiration (sexual arousal). All of this magic is of course brought to you by our dear friend the sympathetic nervous system, home of the “fight or flight” response.

Let me set the scene… 

Let’s say you just walked out of the shower…No wait better yet, let’s say Michelle Rodriguez just walked out of the shower wearing nothing but a towel when suddenly she hears a loud crash from the kitchen…

About 90% of the heat in Michelle’s super fit body is lost first through the skin, even more so when wet, because water transmits heat away far more efficiently than air.

She slowly walks down the stairs….

Respiration increases along with her heart rate as blood flow is conserved for the brain and other vital organs, temporarily halting digestion. A sudden rush of energy is felt as epinephrine acts on the insulin producing liver cells, allocating glucose so that Michelle’s warrior, Resident Evil reflexes can spring into action if need be.

She approaches the doorway of the kitchen, reaching for her limited edition, zombie killing, 9mm Smith & Wesson…

The adrenaline coursing through her blood stream has taken her mind off the chill in the air but her body is still losing heat through evaporative cooling of the skin and through the rapid breaths (lungs accounting for 10% of total heat loss).

She turns the corner..

Tiny, arrector pili muscles located at the base of the hairs  on her neck, arms, and perfectly toned legs contract forming goose bumps and raising the hairs on Michelle – as both a response to fear and her body’s attempt to conserve heat.

She puts the safety back on her pistol, realizing that it was just her silly cat knocking over a bowl of Captain Crunch. That’s when it dawns on her “I only buy Raisin Bran!”

Happy Halloween my friends and as always…stay curious, stay classy, and never stop learning 🙂

Michelle-Rodriguez-Wallpapers-3

“André tells the best stories”

Muscle Mania

man that guy is swollen. What do you think...shellfish allergy?

man that guy is swollen..what do you think shellfish allergy?

If you ask some folks about muscle function they may start pointing and naming off the ones that they’re proud of and that’s if they haven’t already sent you pictures of their P90X abs in front of the bathroom mirror with their camera phone set to stun. If you’re like me, you’ll point to the ones you badly need to take to the shop (gym) for repair. However, we’re not here today to play pin the tail on the gluteus maximus. No my friends, in order to give muscle function the attention it deserves we need to get deep and real on the microscopic level..up close and very personal. Cue super hi-tech, magnified computer graphic model! Oh wait, I’m not actually funded. Well check out this boring 1970’s model below…just as good.

When I say “muscle” and I look at this diagram below, that looks not unlike a mattress box spring, my first thoughts are “what the hell is…” A single skeletal muscle is a lot like Kanye West, layered and complex. No worries, we’ll get back to this picture in a bit and hopefully it will make a lot more sense and if not well….maybe you shouldn’t put so much pressure on people. I mean do you have to stand so close?

protein structure inside filaments inside muscle cells...very lifelikesource:http://www.bio.miami.edu

protein structure inside filaments inside muscle cells…very lifelike
source:http://www.bio.miami.edu

3 main types of muscle

  1. skeletal – largely responsible for movement pushing, pulling, support and posture most of which is under the direct influence of our voluntary or conscious control and manipulation
  2. smooth – lines the walls of organs, aiding in the function of the esophagus, stomach, intestines, uterus, bladder, and blood vessels
  3. cardiac – which has a similar construction to skeletal muscle but functions involuntarily like smooth muscle

Anyway, muscles get their strength, flexibility, stability, and overall sex appeal from a mosaic of tiny working bits and pieces. Let’s have a look at them shall we…

The breakdown of a single skeletal muscle goes like this from largest to smallest

The BIG parts

Muscle (let’s say bisceps) composed of bundles of fascicles encased in a protective perimysium coat. Those fascicles are composed of bundles of muscle fibers (myocytes) which are cells encased in their own protective edomysium coat composed of collagen – by the way, collagen is one of the things people suffering from scurvy (vitamin C deficiency) have trouble making. Ok, that’s the last I’ll mention the gross anatomy because we need to get down to the business of the myocytes. That’s really where the action is.

Da Business

Individual muscle cells (myocytes if you’re nasty – Janet Jackson reference) are made up of myofibrils which are bundles of protein. Oh man, are you getting tired of bundles yet…when does it end? Never. Here’s where it get’s fun because now we’re on the cellular level and you know I like it when we get cellular. Muscle cells are composed of myofibrils each one is a curious jigsaw of proteins that slide past each other at specific, fine tuned junctions that collectively result in muscle contraction and relaxation. That’s right the deeper you go down the simpler everything is…just consider that at it’s core the source of a muscle’s movement is the sliding of proteins.

Those hero proteins

Actin – form thin filaments

Myosin – form thick filaments

and once more with feeling..source:http://www.bio.miami.edu

and once more with feeling..
source:http://www.bio.miami.edu

Powered by the cellular energy of ATP within short regions of the myofibril called sarcomeres, the myosin heads glide past the neighboring actin filaments. A collection of these filaments within myocytes responding to nerve impulses change the muscle’s shape and this is what does the work. What do you mean “am I just going to end it there?” Oh you just watch me. It’s true, physiologically and anatomically muscles have a great deal of complexity. If I’ve left you with more questions…if you suddenly feel a gap in your understanding, then my work here is done. Stay curious, stay classy, and never stop learning my friends 🙂

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.