Metabolic Alkalosis

What is Metabolic Alkalosis?

Metabolic alkalosis is an acid-base imbalance in the body caused by changes in the levels of blood alkaline substances (known as electrolytes), such as sodium, potassium, and chloride. It results in the blood becoming more alkaline, or ‘basic’, than normal, often due to loss of acidity from the body.

Symptoms of Metabolic Alkalosis

Metabolic alkalosis is typically mild and can cause symptoms such as:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle cramps or weakness
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Lightheadedness

If left untreated, metabolic alkalosis can lead to more serious complications, such as impaired kidney function and irregular heart rhythms.

Causes of Metabolic Alkalosis

The most common cause of metabolic alkalosis is loss of hydrochloric acid (HCL), which occurs when too much water is lost from the body, such as from excessive sweating or vomiting. Other potential causes of metabolic alkalosis include:

  • Prolonged use of certain medications such as diuretics, antidiuretics, or corticosteroids
  • Significant loss or gain of potassium or sodium in the body, usually due to diet or medical condition
  • Respiratory conditions, such as COPD, or conditions that cause hyperventilation, such as anxiety or stress
  • Metabolic disorder, such as Cushing’s syndrome

Diagnosing Metabolic Alkalosis

Metabolic alkalosis is typically diagnosed through a blood test. The blood sample is tested to check for sodium, potassium, chloride, and bicarbonate levels. An electrocardiogram (ECG) may also be performed to check for abnormal heart rhythms.

Treatment for Metabolic Alkalosis

Treatment for metabolic alkalosis may include:

  • Replacing fluids and electrolytes lost through excessive sweating or vomiting
  • Limiting or avoiding certain medications, such as diuretics and antidiuretics
  • A change in diet to include more potassium-rich foods
  • Regular monitoring of electrolyte levels
  • Correction of imbalance in respiratory or metabolic disorders