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What causes high levels of CO2 in the blood?

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Quick Answer

Causes of high levels of carbon dioxide in the blood include vomiting, dehydration and overuse of bicarbonate medicine such as antacids, according to WebMD. Other causes include conditions such as pulmonary edema or fluid in the lungs, chronic obstructive disease, anorexia, heart diseases, Conn’s syndrome and Cushing's disease.

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Full Answer

Carbon dioxide levels in the blood are influenced by the function of the kidneys and lungs. The kidneys are responsible for maintaining the normal carbonate levels, according to MedlinePlus. Several conditions may alter bicarbonate levels including alkalosis or a condition in which body fluids have excess base. Delirium or sudden severe confusion as a result of spontaneous changes in brain function that occur with mental or physical illness may also alter bicarbonate levels. In addition, bicarbonate levels may be altered by dementia or loss of brain function that occurs with certain diseases. Other conditions that alter bicarbonate levels include renal tubular acidosis distal and renal tubular acidosis proximal.

Buildup of CO2 in blood makes it become more acidic, states Healthline. This results in a condition called metabolic alkalosis, which may occur due to certain kidney conditions, according to MedlinePlus. On the other hand, decreased carbon dioxide in blood makes it too alkaline, a condition known as respiratory alkalosis, which is caused by several factors including fever, insufficient oxygen, high altitude, liver diseases and salicylate poisoning. It may also be due to lung disease, which causes an individual to breathe faster or hyperventilate.

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