Respiratory alkalosis

Alternative names
Alkalosis - respiratory


Respiratory alkalosis is a condition of excessive alkalinity of the body fluids, most often associated with respiratory (breathing) disorders. The pH (a measure of acidity) is high and carbon dioxide levels are low.

Common Causes include hyperventilation (increased rate of breathing), anxiety, and fever. The symptoms may include light-headedness, dizziness, and numbness of the hands and feet.

Treatment of alkalosis includes removal of the cause. Breathing into a paper bag - or use of a mask that causes re-breathing of carbon dioxide - helps reduce symptoms in some cases.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Any lung disease that leads to Shortness of breath may result in respiratory alkalosis. Fever and anxiety are also common causes of hyperventilation.


  • Light-headedness  
  • Numbness

Signs and tests

  • Arterial blood gas  
  • Chest x-ray or pulmonary function test


Treatment is aimed at the condition that causes hyperventilation and respiratory alkalosis. Life-threatening respiratory alkalosis is very rare.

Expectations (prognosis)
The prognosis is based on the condition that causes the respiratory alkalosis.


Seizures may occur if the alkalosis is extremely severe. This is very rare.

Calling your health care provider
Call your health care provider if you have any symptoms of lung disease, such as chronic cough or Shortness of breath.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 4, 2012
by Janet G. Derge, M.D.

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