Alkalosis vs Acidosis
Normal human blood pH is maintained at about 7.4. This is the pH where most of the enzymes show their optimum activity. Also, this is the pH where most of other biological molecules show their maximum functionalities. So it is important to maintain the blood pH at this level. Our bodies have special mechanisms to regulate pH at his level (between 7.35 and 7.45). Alkalosis and acidosis are two abnormal conditions where blood pH varies from the normal value. When the pH is higher than 7.45, blood will be more alkaline. In contrast when the pH is below 7.35, blood will be more acidic. If these values vary largely from the normal level (for example pH 4 or pH 10), it is a very extreme condition. There are many mechanisms in our bodies to regulate the pH level. Kidneys, lungs are the main organs participating in these mechanisms. Any disease that affects the mechanisms of respiration or excretion can cause alkalosis and acidosis.
Alkalosis is the condition of having a blood pH more than 7.45 due to excess alkali in blood. Ideally, this is referred to the blood in arteries. Alkalosis can occur due to several reasons. One reason is due to hyperventilation. This can cause loss of carbon dioxide, which needs to maintain proper acidity. Metabolic alkalosis results due to disturbances in the electrolyte content of the body. This can be because of prolonged vomiting, extreme dehydration conditions, etc. Further, when high amounts of basic compounds are consumed, alkalosis can occur.
Acidosis refers to the condition of having a pH lower than 7.35 in blood. As by-products of metabolism in cells, large quantities of acidic compounds are produced. Carbon dioxide is the most widely produced molecule in cells through cellular respiration. Carbon dioxide is an acidic gas. It dissolves in water and produce carbonic acid. Other than carbon dioxide, lactic acid, ketoacids, and other organic acids are also produced. All these should be regulated and remove from the body in order to prevent unnecessary pH drop. For example, we have a buffering system in our bodies for this. These can withstand addition of excess alkali and acid. In other words, they don’t allow pH changes upon addition of acids or alkali. Bicarbonates, phosphates, plasma proteins act as good buffers inside our bodies. Further, kidneys and lungs are the main organs participating in regulating blood pH. Carbon dioxide is removed from the body from lungs through exhaling. Inhaling and exhaling is an important process in maintaining the blood pH level. Kidneys produce urine and, through this process, they excrete most of the unwanted acidic components from our bodies. Especially bicarbonate level is regulated from kidneys.
Therefore, as stated above, acidosis can occur due to increased production of acidic compounds from metabolism, increased consumption of food which produces acidic compounds, low acid excretion. Moreover, if more bases are excreted from the body, acids inside the body can be comparatively increased.
What is the difference between Alkalosis and Acidosis?
• Acidosis refers to the condition of having a pH lower than 7.35 in blood. Alkalosis is the condition of having a blood pH more than 7.45.
• Alkalosis is due to high alkaline compounds in blood and acidosis is due to the high amount of acidic compounds in blood.