Diabetes and the Effects of Metabolic Alkalosis

128px-Alkaline_pH laurence livermore.jpg

Metabolic alkalosis is caused by too much bicarbonate in the body's fluids, causing them to become alkaline. It can occur as the result of kidney disease, which anyone with diabetes should be aware of.

Metabolic Alkalosis

Alkalosis is generally diagnosed when the pH of the blood exceeds 7.45. It occurs when the body loses too much acid or gains too much base. There are a variety of ways this can happen, including poor kidney or lung function, low carbon dioxide levels, an extreme lack of potassium or chloride, or too much bicarbonate in the blood. Dehydration combined with high sugar levels can result in alkalosis. Alcoholism and drug abuse - particularly cocaine - can also trigger alkalosis.

The body is well-equipped to excrete excess bicarbonate in the urine. However, the kidneys have to be working well to facilitate that. For the diabetic who has impaired kidney functioning, or for the patient whose illness has caused a significant loss of potassium or chloride, this is inefficient, and too often inadequate.

Symptoms of Diabetic Metabolic Alkalosis

Symptoms of diabetic metabolic alkalosis include: light-headedness and dizziness; nausea and vomiting; mental confusion; numbness or tingling in the face and extremities; muscle weakness; myalgia; muscle cramps; tremors in the hands; and twitching muscles. Extreme or untreated metabolic alkalosis can lead to coma. This will require specialized medical treatment and oversight.

Treating Metabolic Alkalosis

Treatment of this disorder is centered on treating the symptoms and providing supportive therapy. The underlying cause must also be addressed. In the case of the diabetic, blood sugar levels should be brought into alignment, and hydration should be complete. Potassium or chloride deficits will be treated by medication.

Treatment of the disorder will generally reverse all symptoms exhibited. However, alkalosis developed as the result of a pre-existing kidney disorder might not be treatable.

Metabolic Alkalosis Outcomes

Untreated metabolic alkalosis can lead to electrolyte imbalances, heart arrhythmias and coma. It is important that anyone who believes they might be suffering from metabolic alkalosis seeks medical help as soon as possible.

Sources: Healthline.com and National Institutes of Health

Image: courtesy Laurence Livermore

 
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