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Extra resources for Fluids and electrolytes demystified
4 Bases Bases are deﬁned as proton or hydrogen ion acceptors. Most bases are chemicals that dissociate to produce hydroxide ions (OH–). A substance that has a lower hydrogen ion concentration than hydroxide ion concentration is considered a base, so the addition of hydroxide ions to a solution makes the solution more basic. Since hydroxide ions (OH–) act as a base and accept hydrogen ions (H+), water is formed. Therefore, hydroxide ions tend to neutralize substances. Like acids, bases can be either strong or weak.
For example, the enzymes that break down proteins in the digestive tract function at an acidic pH of 2, whereas those in the mouth that break down starches function at a pH of 7. Chemical reactions that take place in the extracellular ﬂuids (ECFs) occur only when the pH is above 7. Deviations from normal pH actually can shut down metabolic pathways and lead to disastrous consequences. Regulation Changes in the pH of the body are resisted through varied buffer systems that convert a strong acid or base to a weak one and thus bind H+ ions or leave more H+ ions free.
Similarly, if renal system function is insufﬁcient or nonexistent (failure), reabsorption and excretion of electrolytes may occur without response to the feedback mechanism or consideration of current levels of electrolytes. For example, in renal failure, potassium may be not be excreted and may even be reabsorbed, although the potassium level is already high because there is a failure of the usual feedback mechanism. Table 1–3 is a summary of regulation mechanisms for representative electrolytes.