Respiratory Failure

Regulation of Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide

Illustration of Lungs in RedWhen your body is unable to regulate oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, respiratory failure occurs. If your lungs can’t release oxygen into your blood your organs won’t function properly. If your lungs can’t remove carbon dioxide from your blood it can harm your body's organs. Respiratory failure can be classified as Type I or Type II, depending on the levels of carbon dioxide present in your blood.

People with a high carbon dioxide level may experience:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Confusion

People with low oxygen levels may experience:

  • An inability to breathe
  • Bluish coloration in the skin, fingertips, or lips

Treatment for respiratory failure depends on the severity and whether the condition is short-term or ongoing. The underlying cause of your symptoms must also be treated. You may receive oxygen therapy and other treatment to help you breathe.

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