What is the likely compensatory response to metabolic acidosis?

Updated: Oct 10, 2018
  • Author: Christie P Thomas, MBBS, FRCP, FASN, FAHA; Chief Editor: Vecihi Batuman, MD, FASN  more...
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Answer

As a compensatory mechanism, metabolic acidosis leads to alveolar hyperventilation with a fall in PaCO2. Normally, PaCO2 falls by 1-1.3 mm Hg for every 1-mEq/L fall in serum HCO3- concentration, a compensatory response that can occur fairly quickly. If the change in PaCO2 is not within this range, then a mixed acid-base disturbance is present. For example, if the decrease in PaCO2 is less than the expected change, then a primary respiratory acidosis also is present.


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