Your body needs to maintain an optimum acid-base balance, or pH level, to ensure the various processes within your body occur without problems, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center 5. When your body’s pH level becomes high, the condition is known as alkalosis. When your body’s pH level becomes low, the condition is called acidosis. Both alkalosis and acidosis can have dangerous consequences if untreated.
Alkalosis can cause arrhythmia, or an irregular heartbeat, notes the New York Times Health Guide 34. This may occur when your body hyperventilates. The consequent irregularity in breathing can cause the heart to beat at irregular intervals as well. In order to diagnosis alkalosis, doctors will check carbon dioxide and sodium bicarbonate levels in your blood. These two chemicals help regulate breathing, heart rate and organ function. If you have high pH levels, your carbon dioxide will be low and sodium bicarbonate levels will be high. This will cause an increase in your breathing rate and cardiac arrhythmia. You may experience difficulty breathing, chest pain and palpitations.
Alkalosis can induce a coma if pH levels are sufficiently high, notes the New York Times Health Guide 34. This may be a consequence of breathing difficulties typical of alkalosis. The risk of an alkalosis-induced coma may be affected by other factors, such as the level of oxygen in the surrounding air or the presence of lung disease.
Low Potassium Levels
Metabolic alkalosis can cause your body to have imbalanced electrolyte levels, notes the New York Times Health Guide 34. Often, potassium levels are significantly decreased. This drastic decrease in potassium is called hypokalemia. As pH levels increase, potassium levels in your blood continue to fall. This can lead to problems in your kidneys, heart and digestive system.
Impaired Organ Function
Respiratory acidosis can impair normal organ functions, according to Drugs.com 1. This may be brought about by an excessive accumulation of carbon dioxide. Such an accumulation lowers the pH of your body, turning it acidic. Consequently your body becomes sluggish and exhausted. Oxygen levels within your body decrease, further impairing organ function.
Acidosis can eventually result in respiratory failure, notes Drugs.com 1. This is often further complicated by the presence of conditions that impair breathing. The subsequent breathing difficulties increase the acidity of the blood. Eventually acidosis becomes so severe respiration fails altogether.
Severe respiratory alkalosis can cause seizures, notes the New York Times Health Guide 34. This may begin when your body hyperventilates and the pH levels increase. The subsequent alkalosis can be severe enough to induce seizures. Cases of alkalosis-related seizures are rare, but, if present, can denote a life-threatening rise in pH levels.
Shock or Death
- Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images