Carbonic acid is a compound that can only exist as a salt. It is used in the medical field to treat a variety of conditions and can be given either topically, orally or by intravenous infusion depending on the situation. Carbonic acid is used in both human and veterinary medicine.
Carbonic acid is used topically to treat dermatitides, such as ringworm, and can be used as a mouthwash or vaginal douche. It can also be given orally to induce vomiting in cases of poisoning or a drug overdose. Orally administered carbonic acid has been used successfully in overdoses of tricyclic antidepressants, which can cause severe cardiotoxicity and convulsions.
The most common use of carbonic acid is as a salt form, sodium bicarbonate, for an intravenous infusion in the hospital setting. Sodium bicarbonate is a crash cart drug used in code blue situations and for regular hospital situations. Some examples of its uses include reduction of the incidence of cardiac arrhythmias and increasing blood pressure in patients with severe hypotension.
Carbonic acid is the main buffering compound in human blood and can be broken down to carbon dioxide by an enzyme called carbonic anhydrase. The reversible conversion of carbonic acid to carbon dioxide plays an important role in maintaining a blood pH of 7.40.