Coordinated Health

Conditions

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, incidence, and risk factors

Common causes include:

  • Anxiety
  • Fever
  • Hyperventilation

Any lung disease that leads to shortness of breath can also cause respiratory alkalosis.

Symptoms

The symptoms may include:

  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Numbness of the hands and feet

Signs and tests

Your doctor or nurse will perform a physical exam. Tests that may be done include:

  • Arterial blood gas, which measures oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the blood
  • Basic metabolic panel
  • Chest x-ray
  • Pulmonary function test

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.

Expectations (prognosis)

What will happen depends on the condition that is causing the respiratory alkalosis.

Complications

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

Calling your health care provider

Call your health care provider if you have any symptoms of lung disease, such as chronic cough or shortness of breath.

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