Acid Base Balance Explained
Acid Base Balance
Respiratory: When breathing is inadequate carbon dioxide (respiratory acid) accumulates. The extra CO2 molecules combine with water to form carbonic acid which contributes to a relative shift towards an acid pH. The treatment, if all else fails, is to lower the PCO2 by breathing for the patient using a ventilator or bag and mask.
Metabolic: When normal metabolism is impaired - acid forms, e.g., poor blood supply stops oxidative metabolism and lactic acid forms. This acid is not respiratory so, by definition, it is "metabolic acid." If severe, the patient may be in shock and require treatment, possibly by neutralizing this excess acid with bicarbonate, possibly by allowing time for excretion or metabolism.
That's it! The whole of acid-base balance in six sentences. As you explore acid base balance, keep this bird's eye-view in mind.