Respiratory alkalosis

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Respiratory alkalosis is caused by alveolar hyperventilation -the opposite of respiratory acidosis. The kidneys take 2-5 days to compensate fully by excreting bicarbonate in the urine and retaining hydrogen ions. Many people tend to think that "hyperventilation" means hysteria. This is incorrect. Hyperventilation is a sign, not a diagnosis, and it has many causes:

• lung causes (hypoxaemia, pulmonary embolism, pneumonia, pneumothorax, pulmonary oedema)

• CNS causes (meningitis/encephalitis, raised intracranial pressure, stroke, cerebral haemorrhage)

• metabolic causes (fever, acute liver failure, hyperthyroidism)

• drugs (salicylate poisoning)

• Gram-negative septicaemia

• psychogenic causes (pain, anxiety).

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