Regulation Of Acid-Base Balance

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Chapter: Anatomy, Physiology And Health Education : Acid-Base Balance

Body is under constant threat of acidosis because of the production of large amount of acids.


REGULATION OF ACID-BASE BALANCE

 

 

Body is under constant threat of acidosis because of the production of large amount of acids. Generally, two types of acids are produced in the body:

 

1.   Volatile acids

2.   Non-volatile acids.

 

1.     Volatile Acids

 

Volatile acids are derived from CO2. Large quantity of CO2 is produced during the metabolism of carbohydrates and lipids. This CO2 is not a threat because it is almost totally removed through expired air by lungs.

 

 

2.     Non-volatile Acids

 

Non-volatile acids are produced during the metabolism of other nutritive substances such as proteins. These acids are real threat to the acid-base status of the body. For example, sulfuric acid is produced during the metabolism of sulfur containing amino acids such as cysteine and metheonine; hydrochloric acid is produced during the metabolism of lysine, arginine and histidine. Fortunately, body is provided with the best regulatory mechanisms to prevent the hazards of acid production.

 

 

Compensatory Mechanism

 

Whenever there is a change in pH beyond the normal range, some compensatory changes occur in the body to bring the pH back to normal level. The body has three different mechanisms to regulate acid-base status:

 

1.       Acid-base buffer system, which binds free H+

2.       Respiratory mechanism, which eliminates CO2

3.       Renal mechanism, which excretes H+ and conserves the bases (HCO –).

 

Among the three mechanisms, the acid-base buffer system is the fastest one and it readjusts the pH within seconds. The respiratory mechanism does it in minutes. Whereas, the renal mechanism is slower and it takes few hours to few days to bring the pH back to normal. However, the renal mechanism is the most powerful mechanism than the other two in maintaining the acid- base balance of the body fluids.

 

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