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Alkalosis describes when the pH of blood plasma exceeds 7.45 due to the reduction of hydrogen ions. Although blood plasma is slightly alkaline under normal conditions, when alkaline levels rise too high it leads to lowered potassium levels, muscle weakness, pain and cramps and eventually uncontrolled contractions of the muscles.
It can be caused by either respiratory or metabolic problems. When a patient breathes too rapidly, carbon dioxide levels drop in the blood leading to the production of bicarbonate to compensate. Similarly, when a person vomits frequently, hydrochloric acid from the stomach is depleted and the body creates more by making plasma more alkaline.