Merck Manual

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Acid-Base Disturbances and the Body's Response

Acid-Base Disturbances and the Body's Response

Primary Disturbance

Example

Initial Blood pH

Compensatory Mechanism

Compensatory Change in Blood pH

Metabolic acidosis

Increased acid production due to diabetic ketoacidosis

Too low

Increased breathing rate to expel carbon dioxide

Increases back toward normal

Respiratory acidosis

Decreased ability to breathe due to severe chronic lung disease

Too low

Increased excretion of acid in the urine

Increases back toward normal

Metabolic alkalosis

Loss of stomach acid due to vomiting

Too high

Decreased breathing rate to retain carbon dioxide

Decreases back toward normal

Respiratory alkalosis

Hyperventilation due to anxiety

Too high

Increased excretion of alkali in the urine

Decreases back toward normal