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Alternative namesChronic respiratory acidosis; Ventilatory failure; Respiratory failure; Acidosis - respiratory
Respiratory acidosis occurs when the lungs cannot remove all of the carbon dioxide (a normal by-product of metabolism) produced by the body. Because of this disturbance of the acid-base balance, body fluids become excessively acidic.
Other conditions that may lead to respiratory acidosis include: obesity hypoventilation syndrome , excessive fatigue of the diaphragm or muscles of the rib cage, or severe deformities of the spine and rib cage (for example, severe scoliosis).
In severe cases, the carbon dioxide builds up very quickly, leading to severe disturbances in the acid-base balance of the blood.
Causes, incidence, and risk factorsNearly any lung disease may lead to respiratory acidosis. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a major cause of respiratory acidosis. COPD is most often caused by cigarette smoking.
Symptoms of the diseases that cause respiratory acidosis are usually noticeable, and may include shortness of breath, easy fatigue, chronic cough, or wheezing.
When respiratory acidosis becomes severe, confusion, irritability, or lethargy may be apparent.
Signs and tests
Treatment is aimed at the underlying lung disease.
Expectations (prognosis)The prognosis depends on the underlying disease.
Calling your health care provider
Not smoking -- or quitting if you smoke -- can prevent the development of many severe lung diseases that can lead to respiratory acidosis. Obese patients may prevent obesity hypoventilation syndrome by losing weight.
Update Date: 1/27/2004Allen J. Blaivas, D.O., Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine, University Hospital, Newark, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT