What's respiratory failure?
Respiratory failure is when your breathing isn't good enough.
You breathe in (inhale) to get oxygen from the air into your blood
You breathe out (exhale) to get rid of carbon dioxide from your blood
Any problem that slows or blocks your breathing can cause respiratory failure
Your blood may have too little oxygen, too much carbon dioxide, or both
Doctors treat the cause of respiratory failure
What causes respiratory failure?
Different types of problems can cause respiratory failure:
What are the symptoms of respiratory failure?
At first you may:
Feel short of breath
Have a blue color to your lips and sometimes to your skin
Later on you:
Become sleepy and confused
Without treatment, you may go into a coma and die.
How do doctors know I have respiratory failure?
Doctors usually know based on your symptoms. They also:
Put a sensor on your finger to measure the oxygen level in your blood
Do a blood test to measure the level of oxygen and carbon dioxide
They also do a chest x-ray and various other tests to look for the cause of your respiratory failure.