Respiratory Alkalosis


Respiratory alkalosis is generally caused by hyperventilation, which is a rapid increase in breathing rate or depth. 

Respiratory alkalosis causes:

  • Anxiety
  • Pain
  • Fever
  • Liver disease
  • Lung disease
  • Neurologic conditions
  • Pregnancy
  • Trauma
  • Drug overdose
  • Tumors

In some cases, respiratory alkalosis may also be caused by pneumothorax, which is a collapsed lung.

Risk Factors

There are two main risk factors of respiratory alkalosis.

People who experience conditions that cause rapid breathing are at higher risk for respiratory alkalosis. These conditions include extreme anger, anxiety, and stress. Strong emotions can lead to hyperventilation, which then results in respiratory alkalosis. Additionally, people who require mechanical ventilation support are also at higher risk.


The first step in the diagnosis of respiratory alkalosis is taking a patient's medical history. This will help the doctor identify any risk factors or possible causes of the condition. Your doctor will conduct a physical examination and order various tests to confirm the diagnosis.

The most common test for respiratory alkalosis diagnosis is an arterial blood gas test. During this test, your doctor takes an arterial sample and uses a special machine to determine the acid-alkaline concentration of your blood.

When a person experiences respiratory alkalosis, their pH is greater than 7.45 and their arterial carbon dioxide level is lower because they are breathing out extra CO2.


Respiratory alkalosis treatment is customized to the underlying cause of the condition. Your doctor might prescribe medication, ventilation, or direct current cardioversion. The end goal of treatment for respiratory alkalosis is to elevate carbon dioxide levels.


Your doctor may give you medication to reduce pain and anxiety, which will reduce hyperventilation. The specific combination of medications used to treat respiratory alkalosis depend on your general health, medical history, and the cause of your condition.


Your doctor may opt for ventilation therapy. This involves using a machine to assist with breathing. The machine provides a set number of breaths per minute and helps to deliver oxygen to your lungs.

Ventilation therapy can be used on a short-term or long-term basis to relieve respiratory alkalosis symptoms.

Direct Current Cardioversion

Direct current cardioversion is a medical procedure that is used to treat arrhythmias. During the procedure, a low-voltage electrical current is passed through your chest to the heart. This electrical current helps to reset your heart’s rhythm.


If you develop respiratory alkalosis, you may experience lingering complications. Left untreated, you might have difficulty concentrating or experience changes in your mood. You may also have trouble breathing. If you develop respiratory alkalosis, it's important to seek medical attention so that you can receive proper treatment and avoid serious or worsening complications.


Respiratory alkalosis prevention focuses on alleviating the causes of the condition. Usually, this means relieving stress and anxiety.

Prevention methods include:

  • Meditation
  • Breathing exercises
  • Physical exercise
  • Therapy
  • Emotional processing

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