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Respiratory Alkalosis Treatment & Management

  • Author: Ryland P Byrd, Jr, MD; Chief Editor: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP  more...
 
Updated: Jul 31, 2015
 

Medical Care

The treatment of respiratory alkalosis is primarily directed at correcting the underlying disorder. Respiratory alkalosis itself is rarely life threatening. Therefore, emergent treatment is usually not indicated unless the pH level is greater than 7.5. Because respiratory alkalosis usually occurs in response to some stimulus, treatment is usually unsuccessful unless the stimulus is controlled. If the PaCO2 is corrected rapidly in patients with chronic respiratory alkalosis, metabolic acidosis may develop due to the renal compensatory drop in serum bicarbonate.

In mechanically ventilated patients who have respiratory alkalosis, the tidal volume and/or respiratory rate may need to be decreased. Inadequate sedation and pain control may contribute to respiratory alkalosis in patients breathing over the set ventilator rate.

In hyperventilation syndrome, patients benefit from reassurance, rebreathing into a paper bag during acute episodes, and treatment for underlying psychological stress. Sedatives and/or antidepressants should be reserved for patients who have not responded to conservative treatment. Beta-adrenergic blockers may help control the manifestations of the hyperadrenergic state that can lead to hyperventilation syndrome in some patients.[2]

In patients presenting with hyperventilation, a systematic approach should be used to rule out potentially life-threatening, organic causes first before considering less serious disorders.

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Consultations

Based on the findings from the history, physical examination, laboratory studies, and imaging modalities, the necessity for assistance from consultants such as pulmonologists, neurologists, or nephrologists can be determined.

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Contributor Information and Disclosures
Author

Ryland P Byrd, Jr, MD Professor of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care Medicine, James H Quillen College of Medicine, East Tennessee State University

Ryland P Byrd, Jr, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Chest Physicians, American Thoracic Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Received salary from Medscape for employment. for: Medscape.

Chief Editor

Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP Geri and Richard Brawerman Chair in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Professor and Executive Vice Chairman, Department of Medicine, Medical Director, Women's Guild Lung Institute, Cedars Sinai Medical Center, University of California, Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine

Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Chest Physicians, American College of Physicians, American Federation for Medical Research, American Thoracic Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Acknowledgements

Gregg T Anders, DO Medical Director, Great Plains Regional Medical Command , Brooke Army Medical Center; Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Pulmonary Disease, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Jackie A Hayes, MD, FCCP Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio; Chief, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brooke Army Medical Center

Jackie A Hayes is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American College of Chest Physicians, American College of Physicians, and American Thoracic Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Oleh Wasyl Hnatiuk, MD Program Director, National Capital Consortium, Pulmonary and Critical Care, Walter Reed Army Medical Center; Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences

Oleh Wasyl Hnatiuk, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Chest Physicians, American College of Physicians, and American Thoracic Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

April Lambert-Drwiega, DO Fellow, Department of Pulmonology and Critical Care Medicine, East Tennessee State University

April Lambert-Drwiega is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Physicians, American Medical Association, American Osteopathic Association, and Southern Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

References
  1. Kazmaier S, Weyland A, Buhre W, et al. Effects of respiratory alkalosis and acidosis on myocardial blood flow and metabolism in patients with coronary artery disease. Anesthesiology. 1998 Oct. 89(4):831-7. [Medline].

  2. Effros RM, Wesson JA. Acid-Base Balance. Mason RJ, Broaddus VC, Murray JF, Nadel JA, eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2005. Vol 1: 192-93.

  3. DuBose TD, Jr. Acidosis and Alkalosis. Kasper DL, Braunwald E, Fauci AS, Hauser Sl, Longo DL, Jameson JL,eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 16th. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2005. 270-1.

  4. Phillipson EA, Duffin J. Hypoventilation and Hyperventilation Syndromes. Mason RJ, Broaddus VC, Murray JF, Nadel JA, eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2005. Vol 2: 2069-70, 2080-84.

  5. Goldman A. Clinical tetany by forced respiration. JAMA. 1922. 78:1193-95.

  6. Haldane JS, Poulton EP. The effects of want of oxygen on respiration. J Physiol. 1908. 37:390-407.

  7. Kirsch DB, Jozefowicz RF. Neurologic complications of respiratory disease. Neurol Clin. 2002 Feb. 20(1):247-64, viii. [Medline].

  8. Gardner WN. The pathophysiology of hyperventilation disorders. Chest. 1996 Feb. 109(2):516-34. [Medline].

 
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