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Acid-Base Balance

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Physiology 1021
Sarah Mc Lean

MODULE 12 AcidBase BalanceWhy is this ImportantMany chemical reactions that take place in the body and most of the machinery inside all the cells are very sensitive to the presence of hydrogen ions Hydrogen ions H can alter the shape of proteins that act as enzymes that speed up chemical reactions As a result any change in the concentration of H will affect the activity of almost every cell Therefore it is essential that H concentration be very carefully regulated The Hydrogen Atom and Hydrogen IonIn order to better understand what an acid is we must first look at the hydrogen atom and hydrogen ion The hydrogen atom has a single proton which is positively charged and a single electron which is negatively charged The result is an electrically neutral element A hydrogen ion H on the other hand is a hydrogen atom that has lost its electron leaving only the positively charged proton In some situations the hydrogen ion may simply be called a proton What Are Acids and BasesAn acid is any molecule that will release hydrogen ions when put in a solution For example hydrochloric acid HCl will break apart or dissociate into free hydrogen ions free H and chloride ions Cl It is the presence of the free H that makes a solution acidicthe more free H the more acidic the solution and vice versa A strong acid will dissociate rapidly and release large amounts of H in solution HCl is a strong acid On the other hand a base is any molecule that will accept a hydrogen ion For example bicarbonate ions HCO the most 3 important base in the body will bind with H to form carbonic acid HCO as shown at right Bases lower the concentration of free H23in solution by combining with the H With less free H the acidity of the solution will decrease and become more basic or alkaline The pH ScaleIts very important to know the concentration of free H in solutionin the body you dont want too many H ions or too few The pH scale is a way of quantifying the concentration of H in any solution The definition of pH is very complicatedpH is the negative logarithm to the base 10 of the hydrogen ion concentration Essentially because it is a negative logarithm the more free H the lower the pH and vice versaIt is very important not to get confused between the terms H concentration acidity and pH Keep in mind that the more free Hthere are in solution the more acidic the solution and the LOWER the pH
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