What is sodium bicarbonate?Sodium bicarbonate is a sodium salt and belongs to the bicarbonates. Colloquially, the substance is also known as soda.
Sodium bicarbonate has the molecular formula NaHCO3. The substance is a sodium salt of carbonic acid, which belongs to the group of bicarbonates. Hydrogen carbonates, also referred to as bicarbonates in the past, are salts of carbonic acid which are formed by neutralization of the acid with a base. Hydrogen carbonates have a solid state of aggregation. Between the bicarbonate ions and the cations there are ionic bonds that provide a solid compound.
Normally, sodium bicarbonate is colorless, but in the powder form it appears white. The substance is odorless and can be dissolved in water. Sodium hydrogen carbonate decomposes at a temperature above 50 ° Celsius. Among other things, water and carbon dioxide are produced.
In the United States, sodium bicarbonate is a natural mineral Nahcolith. It is finely distributed in oil shale and can thus be obtained as an by-product in the extraction of oil. Sodium bicarbonate can also be produced synthetically. For this purpose, purified sodium carbonate solution is reacted with carbon dioxide. By filtration, sodium bicarbonate is then recovered. This must be dried very carefully so that it does not dissolve again.
Sodium bicarbonate is also obtained in the Solvay process (also referred to as ammonia-soda process). However, the resulting sodium bicarbonate is contaminated by ammonium chloride and is therefore generally not used.
Sodium bicarbonate has previously been widely used to treat diseases of increased acidity in the stomach. Sodium bicarbonate leads to an increase in the intragastric pH. Within a short time, the pH in the stomach rises to more than 7. This is because sodium bicarbonate can bind the stomach acid. However, sodium bicarbonate not only binds acids in the stomach but throughout the body.
Medical application & use
Due to its acid-binding properties, sodium bicarbonate is used in various diseases. In the past, sodium bicarbonate has been widely used to treat heartburn as an antacid. Although today's treatment is outdated, many heartburn and stomach problems products still contain sodium bicarbonate. For example, the well-known Bullrich salt consists of 100 percent sodium bicarbonate.
A buffer function takes over sodium bicarbonate not only in the stomach, but also in the blood. For example, it is used as a buffer substance to compensate for the missing bases in hemodialysis. In hemodialysis, fluid and dissolved molecules are removed from the circulating blood via filtration systems outside the body. For a dialyzer is used. Dialyses are mainly used in kidney disease. However, hyperacidity, a so-called metabolic acidosis, may develop. To correct acidosis, sodium bicarbonate is used.
In bicarbonate dialysis, the substance is added to the dialysate. The advantage over other remedies for acidosis, such as acetate or lactate, is that sodium bicarbonate does not first have to be metabolized to achieve its full effect. Therefore, sodium bicarbonate is one of the buffer substances used most often in hemodialysis worldwide. If hemodialysis is accompanied by sodium bicarbonate, there is a much lower rate of hypotension, convulsions, nausea and vomiting.
Sodium bicarbonate is not only used in hemodialysis, but generally in the treatment of metabolic acidosis. Metabolic acidosis is a name for a metabolic hyperacidity of the blood and the body. Causes are an increased proton attack, a reduced excretion of protons or a loss of bicarbonates. Metabolic acidosis, for example, may be the result of diabetic metabolic degeneration, acidosis, severe diarrhea, or chronic renal insufficiency.
Furthermore, sodium bicarbonate is used in hyperkalaemias. In hyperkalemia, there is too much potassium in the blood. The life-threatening electrolyte disorder can be triggered by kidney disease, various medications or severe muscle injury. Typical symptoms include abnormal sensation, muscle twitching and cardiac arrhythmias. Often, however, the cardiovascular arrest is the first, only and mostly fatal symptom.
In the US, many toothpastes contain sodium bicarbonate. There, the substance is mistakenly attributed an abrasive effect. Abrasives are abrasives. In dental care, these substances are meant to remove plaque from teeth and make teeth whiter.
Risks & Side Effects
When sodium bicarbonate is used to treat heartburn, symptoms may be worsened. The rapid increase of the pH in the stomach leads to an increased release of the hormone gastrin. Gastrin is the strongest stimulant for the production of stomach acid. After ingestion of sodium bicarbonate, a reactive increase in production of gastric acid occurs, so that after some time the gastric acid becomes more acidic. In addition, when taking sodium bicarbonate CO2 develops in the stomach. This is perceived by many patients as very unpleasant. Belching and flatulence are the consequences.
In the case of an overdose of sodium hydrogen carbonate, an alkalosis may also develop. The pH of the blood increases by increasing the bicarbonate to a value of more than 7.45. The intracellular hydrogen ions are then exchanged for extracellular potassium, resulting in hypokalaemia (a potassium deficiency). Typical symptoms of a decreased blood potassium level include muscular adynamia with paralysis, reflex weakening or reversal of reflexes, constipation, bladder paralysis, intestinal obstruction, and cardiac arrhythmias.
It can also lead to rhabdomyolysis. The muscle fibers of the striated muscles disintegrate. As a result, sufferers suffer from muscle aches and muscle weakness. In the worst case, the influx of muscle breakdown products in the kidney can cause acute renal failure.