Acid Base Abnormalities

William R. Wrightson Background

Acid-base balance is required to maintain a physiologic milieu compatible with life. The pH, or hydrogen ion concentration, is kept between 7.35 and 7.45 through an intricate system of buffers. The pH is typically expressed through the famous Henderson-Hasselbach equation:

The most significant buffer utilized is the bicarbonate system. Hydrogen ion concentration is dependent on the ratio of bicarbonate to carbon dioxide (PaCO2) and not the absolute concentrations.

Acidosis and alkalosis refer to the presence of acids or bases and do not refer to alterations in the pH. On the other hand, acidemia and alkalemia refer to a deviation of the pH from normal values (Table 1.3).

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