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Here is one simple method for thinking it through.
1. Look at the pH and determine if the patient is in acidosis or alkalosis:
2. If the pH is out of the normal range, determine if the primary problem is respiratory or metabolic.
if the paCO2 (acid) correlates with the abnormal pH, then the problem is respiratory examples--the patient is acidotic and the CO2 (acid) is high the patient is alkalotic and the CO2 (acid) is low
if the HCO3- (base or "alkali") correlates with the abnormal pH, then the problem is metabolic
examples--the patient is alkalotic and the HCO3- (base) is high the patient is acidotic and the HCO3- (base) is low...
Choose one of the options below
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Now look at the value (either paCO2 or HCO3-) that did NOT correlate with the pH.
If it is normal, no compensation is occurring If it is abnormal, but the pH remains abnormal, partial compensation is occurring If it is normal, and the pH is normal, complete compensation.
Compensation-Looking Beyond pH
The body attempts to keep the pH within its normal range by using respiratory (lungs) or metabolic (kidneys) mechanisms to compensate for the opposite system's troubles...
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