Have you ever heard the term “base excess” and wondered what it meant? Our body’s acid-base balance is crucial to our health and wellbeing. Any disruption to this balance can lead to severe health issues. In this article, we will explore what base excess means and how it affects our acid-base balance.
What is Acid-Base Balance?
The acid-base balance in our body refers to the equilibrium between the acids and bases in our blood. These acids and bases are measured based on their pH level, which ranges from 0-14. A pH of 7 is considered neutral, while anything below 7 is acidic, and anything above 7 is basic or alkaline. For optimal health, our body maintains a slightly alkaline pH level of around 7.35 to 7.45.
What is Base Excess?
Base excess is a medical term used to measure the amount of excess base, or alkali, in our blood. It is the opposite of excess acid. Base excess is expressed in milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L) of blood. A negative base excess means that there is excess acid in the blood, while a positive base excess indicates an excess of alkali.
Why is Base Excess Important?
The base excess test is an essential diagnostic tool used to determine a patient’s acid-base balance. Any disruption in the body’s acid-base balance can lead to several health issues like respiratory failure, metabolic acidosis, or metabolic alkalosis. Base excess test helps doctors diagnose and control these health issues.
Understanding the Base Excess Test
The base excess test is performed on a blood sample obtained by using a needle inserted into a vein, usually in the arm. The blood sample is sent to a lab, where it is tested for the amount of excess base or excess acid in the blood. The results of the test can help doctors diagnose and monitor the patient’s acid-base balance.
Normal Range of Base Excess
A healthy adult’s base excess reading is usually between –2 to +2 mEq/L. Any deviation from this range can indicate an underlying acid-base imbalance, and the doctor may require further tests to diagnose the condition.
What Causes Base Excess?
The following factors can contribute to an increase in base excess in the body:
- Ingestion of alkali-rich foods
- Metabolic alkalosis caused by drugs or prolonged vomiting
- Use of sodium bicarbonate in the treatment of metabolic acidosis
On the other hand, the following can cause a decrease in base excess in the body:
- Metabolic acidosis caused by renal failure, diabetic ketoacidosis, or excessive alcohol consumption
- Inadequate oxygen supply to tissues, causing lactic acidosis
- Severe diarrhea or loss of bicarbonate-rich fluids
- Intake of acidic drugs or food
How to Maintain A Healthy Acid-Base Balance?
The following are some tips to help maintain a healthy acid-base balance in the body:
- Drink plenty of water
- Avoid smoking and limit alcohol consumption
- Engage in regular exercise
- Eat a balanced and varied diet
- Avoid excess intake of acidic or alkali-rich foods
The base excess test is an essential diagnostic tool used to monitor and diagnose patients’ acid-base balance. Any deviation from the normal range can indicate an underlying health issue that requires further tests and treatment. Maintaining a healthy acid-base balance in our body through a balanced diet and regular exercise is crucial to our overall health and wellbeing.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- What is the normal range for base excess? A healthy adult’s base excess reading is usually between –2 to +2 mEq/L.
- What causes base excess? Factors like hyperventilation, metabolic alkalosis, ingestion of alkali-rich foods, and use of sodium bicarbonate can contribute to an increase in base excess. On the other hand, metabolic acidosis, inadequate oxygen supply to tissues, severe diarrhea, and intake of acidic drugs or food can cause a decrease in base excess.
- How can I maintain a healthy acid-base balance? Drinking plenty of water, avoiding smoking and limiting alcohol consumption, engaging in regular exercise, eating a balanced and varied diet, and avoiding excess intake of acidic or alkali-rich foods can help maintain a healthy acid-base balance in the body.
- Radiology Reference Article. (2021). Base excess. Available at https://radiopaedia.org/articles/base-excess-1
- Wexner Medical Center. (n.d.). Understanding your acid-base balance. Available at https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/~/media/files/wexnermedical/pdfs/medical-services/laboratory-services/lab-test-directory/lab-test-directory-files/understanding-you-acid-base-balance.ashx
- University of Rochester Medical Center. (2021). Acid-base balance. Available at https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=85&contentid=P00332