Skip to main content

Health Encyclopedia

Search the Health Encyclopedia

Respiratory alkalosis

Definition

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

Alternative Names

Alkalosis - respiratory

Causes

Common causes include:

  • Anxiety or panic
  • Fever
  • Overbreathing (hyperventilation)
  • Pregnancy (this is normal)
  • Pain

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
  • Lightheadedness
  • Numbness of the hands and feet

Exams and Tests

Your health care provider 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 when anxiety is the main cause of the condition.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Outlook 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 provider if you have any symptoms of lung disease, such as long-term (chronic) cough or shortness of breath.

References

Effros RM, Swenson ER. Acid-base balance. In: Broaddus VC, Mason RJ, Ernst JD, et al, eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 7.

Seifter JL. Acid-base disorders. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 118.

Review Date:8/21/2016
Reviewed By:Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, MHS, Paul F. Harron, Jr. Associate Professor of Medicine, Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997-A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

adam.com

The Agency for Health Care Administration (Agency) and this website do not claim the information on, or referred to by, this site is error free. This site may include links to websites of other government agencies or private groups. Our Agency and this website do not control such sites and are not responsible for their content. Reference to or links to any other group, product, service, or information does not mean our Agency or this website approves of that group, product, service, or information.

Additionally, while health information provided through this website may be a valuable resource for the public, it is not designed to offer medical advice. Talk with your doctor about medical care questions you may have.

Health
Outcome Data

No data available for this condition/procedure.

Read More

Health Encyclopedia

More Features

We Appreciate Your Feedback!
1. Did you find this information useful?
         Yes
         No
2. Would you recommend this website to family and friends?
         Yes
         No