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Ourblood is a complex fluid, which is composed of many differentcomponents – water, cells, organic and inorganic compounds. Allthese compounds are slightly acidic or slightly basic (alkaline) andthanks to this, blood in general is of pH that is not neutral (purewater is said to be of neutral pH, 7.0, values below 7.0 indicateacidic environment, while values over 7.0 indicate alkalineenvironment). Acidity of blood in normal circumstances is 7.4, whichmeans that blood is slightly alkaline.

Acidosisand alkalosis

Theseare terms that refer to conditions where the acidity of blood changes andblood becomes more alkaline or more acidic. This happens when thereis an imbalance between acidic and alkaline components in the bloodand the balance is disturbed. For example, the blood becomes moreacidic if there is an increase in quantity of acidic components ofthe blood, while alkalinity increases if there are more alkalinecomponents in the blood than there are acidic components.

Changes in blood acidity can cause serious problems, as ourorganism is built to function properly in a very narrow pH range andmany chemical reactions essential for cell functioning cannot takeplace or go wrong if the pH of the surroundings is out of the usualrange. In general, acidosis is condition when pH of the blood dropsbelow 7.35 and alkalosis is condition when pH of the blood rises over7.45. Severe acidosis means that pH of blood has gone below 7.0, andsevere alkalosis is when the pH of blood rises over 7.5.

Whatcauses acidosis and alkalosis?

Causesof both these conditions can be certain diseases such as emphysemaand kidney failure, which cause irregularities in the organism's abilityto regulate level of acidic compounds in the blood. Also, if largeamount of body fat is metabolized, as in case of diabetes orstarvation, there will be a sudden increase in levels of acidiccompounds in the organism. Also, acidosis can be caused by a highintake of proteins or consumption of acidic foods.

Alkalosiscan be caused by strong diarrhea, or loss of carbonic acid through fast breathing, vomiting, or even intake of sodium bicarbonaterelated to relieving the symptoms of gastric reflux.

Symptoms

Respiratoryacidosis occurs when we cannot eliminate acidic carbon dioxidethrough the lungs efficiently. This leads to headaches, drowsiness,breathing problem, or even coma. Metabolic acidosis is caused byexcessive production of acidic components, caused either byconsumption of acidic compounds or abnormal metabolism, oraccumulation of such components caused by kidney failure. Symptomsare nausea, vomiting and fatigue, rapid breathing, and in severecases, drops in blood pressure that can lead to shock, coma, or death.

Respiratoryalkalosis is caused by hyperventilation and the release of too muchcarbon dioxide from the blood through the lungs. Metabolic alkalosisis caused either by a large increase in alkaline compounds or a large loss ofacidic compounds. Typical symptoms for alkalosis are muscle twitchingand cramps, which can become prolonged in more severe cases.

Treatmentof both acidosis and alkalosis is recommended by a healthcareprofessional upon establishing the diagnosis and proper cause of thecondition.

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