Respiratory Acidosis

Respiratory acidosis:  an acid – base disturbance
characterized by reduced alveolar ventilation and manifested by hypercapnia
(an excess of carbon dioxide in the blood), respiratory acidosis can be
acute ( from a sudden failure in ventilation ) or chronic ( as in long
term pulmonary disease ). 

Respiratory acidosis can result from:  * Central nervous system
(CNS) trauma,

 * Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary  Disease (COPD),

 * Drugs such as narcotics, anesthetics, hypnotics, and sedatives

 * Chronic metabolic alkalosis with respiratory compensatory mechanisms

 * Neuromuscular disease, such as myasthenia gravis, Guillain
– Barre` syndrome, and poliomyelitis

 * Airway obstruction

 * Severe Adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)

 * Extensive pneumonia

 * Large pneumothorax

 * Pulmonary edema

Prognosis depends on the severity of the underlying disturbance as
well as on the patient’s general clinical condition.


CNS effects include:




Unnatural drowsiness (somnolence)

Motor disturbance (asterixis)

Cardiovascular effects include:

 * Possible tachycardia

 * hypertension

 * Possible atrial and ventricular dysrythmias 

 * In severe acidosis, possible hypotension with vasodilation
(bounding pulse)


Effected treatment aims to correct the underlying source of alveolar

Treatment for underlying conditions includes:  * Bronchodilators,

 * Oxygen

 * Antibiotics/Drug therapy

 * Dialysis – to remove toxic drugs, and correction of metabolic