The human body constantly works to control the pH levels of the blood and other bodily fluids. The body’s pH balance is called the acid-base balance.
Your body needs the right pH level to keep itself healthy.
The pH scale
The pH scale measures if something is acidic or alkaline. It ranges from 0 to 14.
A pH below 7 indicates an item is acidic.
A pH of 7 shows the item, e.g. pure water, is neutral.
And a pH above 7 is alkaline or also referred to as “basic”.
Even though the scale of 0 to 14 seems small, each level is 10 times bigger than the next.
E.g. 1 – an item with pH 9 is 10 times more alkaline than an item with pH 8.
E.g. 2 – an item with pH 2 is 100 times more acidic than a pH of 4.
The lungs and kidneys play vital roles in acid-base balance.
Human blood is normally at pH 7.4. If the lungs or kidneys do not function properly, the blood becomes imbalanced. This can lead to two medical conditions, either acidosis or alkalosis.
What do the lungs do to maintain pH balance?
When you breathe out, you expel carbon dioxide, which is slightly acidic.
Breathing out is also a process that helps to regulate your body’s pH balance, as it reduces acidity.
How deeply you exhale is related to the amount carbon dioxide expelled. Vice versa, how deeply you inhale is related to the amount of oxygen you take in. Your body is constantly monitoring this data in order to maintain the proper pH balance internally.
What about the kidneys?
Your kidneys help by working with the lungs to maintain an acid-base balance. They act by excreting acids or bases into the blood. They work much more slowly than the lungs.
Acidosis and alkalosis
It is important to know both acidosis and alkalosis need medical treatment. Changing diet does not treat either issue.
Acidosis means the blood has a pH of less than 7.35, i.e., it is too acidic.
Alkalosis means the blood has a pH higher than 7.45, i.e., it is too basic.
Acidosis or alkalosis caused by a lung disorder or exhalation makes the condition “respiratory”.
Acidosis or alkalosis caused by malfunctioning kidneys makes the condition “metabolic”.
This happens when your lungs are unable to breathe out enough carbon dioxide. It is often linked to a lung disease or respiratory disorder.
Contributing conditions may include asthma, emphysema or severe pneumonia. Other related conditions are sleep medications, narcotics, or disorders of the brain and nervous system.
Symptoms include confusion, extreme sleepiness, fatigue, or headaches.
Untreated severe respiratory acidosis may result in a coma or even death.
Originating from acid build up in the kidneys, this happens when your body cannot expel excess acid or loses too much base.
Some causes include too little sodium bicarbonate in the blood, ketone build up in diabetics, a build-up of lactic acid, or kidney failure.
Symptoms include vomiting, nausea and extreme fatigue.
Untreated severe metabolic acidosis can also result in a coma or death.
This happens when there is too little carbon dioxide in your blood.
Causes include hyperventilation, aspirin overdose, high fever or even pain.
Symptoms include muscle cramping and twitching, and tingling in the extremities and lips, and some irritability.
This happens when your body loses too much acid or bicarbonate levels in your blood are too high.
Causes include extended periods of vomiting, an overactive adrenal gland or overuse of diuretics. Another cause is kidney damage.
Symptoms are the same as for respiratory alkalosis.
In conclusion: Body pH balance is crucial for good health. Your body is normally able to maintain the balance, unless you have a possible medical condition related to the lungs or kidneys.
It is important to seek proper medical advice and treatment for issues related to maintenance of body pH. Changing your diet is not a solution.
Left untreated, body pH which is either too acidic or too alkaline, is dangerous and can be fatal in some cases.
We hope today’s article has given a general insight on the importance of maintaining body pH. No part of this article should be taken as medical advice, which should always be left to qualified medical practitioners to give out.
27th October 2020 22:30
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