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Acid-base Equilibrium and High Altitude Disease

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How is high altitude disease related to acid-base equilibrium?

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I presume it is to do with carbonic acid equilibrium in blood.

At high altitude, the pO2 is lower and therefore the body is less able to remove CO2. Search for the Bohr effect. This effective increase in blood CO2 at high altitude will effect the equilibrium positions of bloods natural buffer system.

Read the following extracts I got from the web with links to the websites.


Bicarbonate is an alkaline, and a vital component of the pH buffering system[1] of the body (maintaining acid-base homeostasis). 70%-75% of CO2 in the body is converted into carbonic acid (H2CO3), which can quickly turn into bicarbonate (HCO3−).

With carbonic acid as the central intermediate species, bicarbonate, in conjunction with water, hydrogen ions, and carbon dioxide forms this buffering system which is maintained at the volatile equilibrium[1] required to provide prompt resistance to drastic pH changes in both the acidic and basic directions. This is especially important for protecting tissues of the central nervous system, where pH changes too far outside of the normal range in either direction could prove disastrous. (See acidosis, or alkalosis.)

Bicarbonate also acts to regulate pH in the small intestine. It is released from the pancreas in response to the hormone secretin to neutralize the acid chyme entering the duodenum from the stomach ...

Solution Summary

How is high altitude disease related to acid-base equilibrium is determined in the solution.