The difference in acidosis and alkalosis

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What is the difference between respiratory acidosis and alkalosis, and metabolic acidosis and alkalosis. How can you tell that a patient is experiencing this by their ABG's? Please explain in full.

Jul 10th, 2015

Thank you for the opportunity to help you with your question! I shall do my best to help you out!

To answer your question, you first need to know the difference between respiratory/metabolic acidosis/alkalosis. There are many definitions, but I will give you the basic one: 

ยทAcidosis: occurs when the body fluid pH is below 7.4. Alkalosis: occurs when the pH is above 7.4. 

These are the values that occur within the human body. To remember what happens with what, I use the mnemonic: RUB MUB: respiratory uses bicarb, metabolic uses breathing. 

Respiratory acidosis: retain bicarbonate. 

Respiratory alkalosis: excrete bicarbonate 

Metabolic acidosis: Increase ventilation 

Metabolic alkalosis: decrease ventilation 

The best way I find to remember this is ROME: 

Respiratory opposite:

 pH up PCO2 down - alkalosis 

pH down PCO2 up - acidosis 

Metabolic Equal: 

pH up, HCO3 up - alkalosis 

pH down, HCO3 down - acidosis 


Please let me know if you need any clarification. I'm always happy to answer your questions. If you have the time, and are satisfied with my answer, please kindly take a moment to rate me on my portfolio, I would greatly appreciate it! Thank you and take care~!
Jul 10th, 2015

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