Individuals with respiratory acidosis experience anxiety, restlessness, blurred vision and headache. In addition, they also experience shortness of breath along with lethargy and fatigue. In more advanced stages, affected individuals show signs of neurologic abnormalities characterized by delirium, asterixis, development of tremors and somnolence . In severe cases, the individual can even go into a coma. Severe hypercapnia may set in which increases the cerebral blood flow and the intracranial pressure leading to the development of papillemdema .
The following diagnostic tools are employed for evaluating the condition of respiratory acidosis:
Treatment of acute respiratory acidosis involves preliminary correction of the underlying condition. The airway should be cleared so that the volatile fractions can get gradually excreted.
Chronic respiratory acidosis can be treated by clearing the airway passage and managing underlying diseases.
Bronchodilators may have to be administered for expanding the air passage. In addition, antibiotics will also be required for treating infections. These are given along with diuretics in order to decrease the pressure on the heart and lungs and corticosteroids are given for reducing the inflammation. In severe cases, the individuals would have to be put on ventilator .
The prognostic factor for individuals with respiratory acidosis largely depends on the underlying causative factor and the severity of the disease. If the underlying disease can be successfully treated, then the condition of respiratory acidosis can be corrected as well. In such cases, the prognosis of the condition is pretty good .
Sudden ventilation failure is the major cause of acute respiratory acidosis. This type of condition occurs due to depression that occurs in the central respiratory region by cerebral diseases. In addition, drugs, obstruction of the airways, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease can also favor ventilation failure causing acute respiratory acidosis. Certain other disease conditions such as myasthenia gravis, muscular dystrophy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis can also lead to acute respiratory failure .
Chronic respiratory acidosis occurs as a secondary phenomenon to other disease conditions such as Pickwickian syndrome, various neuromuscular diseases and ventilator defects .
The exact prevalence of respiratory acidosis is unknown. However, it has been reported that patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are prone to develop respiratory acidosis. In a one year prospective study carried out during the years 1997 -1998, the relationship between respiratory acidosis and oxygenation was explained. The results revealed that of 983 patients that were admitted to the hospital, 972 suffered from respiratory acidosis. Such patients require non-invasive ventilation in order to correct the condition of acidosis. From the available data, it can be estimated that of the 90 patients that would be admitted to UK hospitals every year, 72 cases would be that of respiratory acidosis .
Under normal physiological conditions, metabolic processes generate huge amounts of volatile as well as nonvolatile acid. In addition to this phenomenon, metabolism of fats and carbohydrates also produces large amounts of carbon dioxide.
The carbon dioxide combines with water leading to the formation of carbonic acid. If the lungs function in the normal fashion, then the carbonic acid is readily excreted through the process of ventilation. Such a phenomenon, therefore does not favor the accumulation of acid. Conditions or processes that interfere with the normal ventilation process can disturb the excretion of volatile fraction which in turn would cause acid accumulation in the body .
Avoiding smoking can go a long way in preventing the onset of lung disorders, which may in turn pave way for development of respiratory acidosis. Obesity induced respiratory acidosis can be prevented by keeping weight under check. Individuals are also advised against taking medications that induce sedation; moreover, they should never be combined with alcohol.
Respiratory acidosis can be either acute or chronic in nature. In this type of acidosis, there is an excessive buildup of carbon dioxide in the body due to the inability of the lungs to remove the excess carbon dioxide. Respiratory acidosis is defined by an arterial pH of less than 7.36 and an increase in pCO2 and HCO3- . It is an emergency situation, requiring prompt treatment.
Respiratory acidosis is a condition in which there is is increase in the carbon dioxide concentration in body due to diseases affecting the lungs. Underlying disease conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive lung disease, diseases of chest, obesity and certain drugs favor the development of respiratory acidosis. Symptoms of respiratory acidosis include breathlessness, fatigue, lethargy and sleepiness. In severe cases, individuals would also experience neurologic symptoms such as delirium, confusion, somnolence and onset of tremors. Treating the underlying disease condition forms the basis of the treatment regime.