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Pulmonary Conditions & Diseases: Acute Respiratory Failure

Acute respiratory failure is a condition caused by inadequate supply of oxygen and/or the inability to remove carbon dioxide from the lungs. As a result, the respiratory system cannot perform its normal functions and then can often lead to respiratory failure. Acute respiratory failure develops rapidly whereas chronic respiratory failure develops over time.

What are the signs and symptoms?

  • Shortness of breath
  • Cyanosis
  • Rapid breathing
  • Confusion

What are the risk factors and triggers?

The following conditions can increase the risk of developing Acute Respiratory Failure:

  • Smoking
  • Chronic respiratory diseases
  • Injury to the spine or chest
  • Trauma
  • Neurological conditions that impair respiratory drive

How is it diagnosed?

  • Medical history
  • Physical Exam
  • Diagnostic Test
    • Oxygen levels
    • Arterial Blood Gas
    • Chest X-ray
    • Additional imaging based on clinical findings

What is the treatment?

Treatment for acute respiratory failure depends on the severity of the illness. The provider will create an individualized, comprehensive treatment plan for each patient based on their diagnosis and clinical findings. Treatment interventions may include oxygen therapy, breathing treatments, antibiotics, mechanical ventilation, and/ or bronchoscopy.

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