A patient comes in with a blood pH of 7.46. She is complaining of weakness. It is diagnosed that she has suffered from food poisoning and has been vomiting for the past 8 hours. In terms of carbon dioxide or bicarbonate (whichever is appropriate), explain what her condition is, (metabolic or respiratory; acidosis or alkalosis).
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replied March 27th, 2012
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The normal Blood pH is in the range of 7.35-7.45.

The condition, seen in the patient, is metabolic Alkalosis (blood pH of 7.46)

In conditions, where patients have persistent vomiting, it results in loss of gastric acid (HCl - Hydrochloric acid). When HCl is lost through vomiting, a net gain of bicarbonate into the systemic circulation occurs, generating a metabolic alkalosis (pH >7.40).

In order to maintain balance, the elevated bicarbonate in the blood, stimulates the in renal excretion of potassium (hypokalemia), which is the cause of symptoms like weakness in the patients.

The first clue to metabolic alkalosis is often an elevated bicarbonate concentration that can be confirmed by measuring serum electrolytes and arterial blood gases.

Providing proper IV fluids and treatment of the underlying condition causing the vomiting, usually helps to resolve the condition in most cases.

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