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Acid-Base Disturbances in Patients with Asthma: A Literature Review and Comments on Their Pathophysiology.

Asthma is a common illness throughout the world that affects the respiratory system function, i.e., a system whose operational adequacy determines the respiratory gases exchange. It is therefore expected that acute severe asthma will be associated with respiratory acid-base disorders. In addition, the resulting hypoxemia along with the circulatory compromise due to heart-lung interactions can reduce tissue oxygenation, with a particular impact on respiratory muscles that have increased energy needs due to the increased workload. Thus, anaerobic metabolism may ensue, leading to lactic acidosis. Additionally, chronic hypocapnia in asthma can cause a compensatory drop in plasma bicarbonate concentration, resulting in non-anion gap acidosis. Indeed, studies have shown that in acute severe asthma, metabolic acid-base disorders may occur, i.e., high anion gap or non-anion gap metabolic acidosis. This review briefly presents studies that have investigated acid-base disorders in asthma, with comments on their underlying pathophysiology.

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