Respiratory acidosis is a clinical condition, triggered by excessive buildup of carbon dioxide in the body that disrupts the pH balance causing the blood to go overly acidic. To explain it in layman’s terms, respiratory acidosis is a medical condition where the lung fails to get rid of carbon dioxide from the body thereby causing acidic imbalance in the blood. Any kind of breathing anomalies or chronic lung problems can trigger this condition in the respiratory tract. Also referred to as respiratory or ventilator failure, this condition exacerbates every time the patient consumes things that disrupts the blood’s acidic balance. This acidic-imbalance in the blood aggravates the parts of the brain that controls breathing, leading to rapid deeper breathing in an attempt to release the trapped carbon dioxide. If the level of carbon dioxide in the blood surpasses the normal count, then it might lead to sever acidosis or might even trigger coma! Respiratory acidosis may be sudden or develop slowly with different lung anomalies. The hallmark of this condition is difficulty in breathing, drowsiness, tremors, restlessness and headaches. To know more on the causes of respiratory acidosis, read on.
Causes Of Respiratory Acidosis
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
One of the leading causes of respiratory acidosis is ‘COPD’ or ‘chronic obstructive pulmonary disease’; a chronic respiratory disease of the lungs that obstructs the air passages and interferes with alveolar ventilation. COPD is a potentially disabling disease that affects the lower respiratory tract, causing difficulty in suspiring. Prolonged exposure to smoke and other irritants contract the airways and destroy the walls between the alveoli leading to swelling, inflammation and respiratory acidosis.
Another chronic respiratory disease responsible for respiratory acidosis is pulmonary emphysema, a highly debilitating condition triggered by excessive production of enzyme ‘elastase’ in the lungs. Accumulation of this infection-fighting biochemical destroys the protein elastin, especially required for maintaining the structure of the air sacs, thereby causing the alveoli walls to amplify. This causes the bronchioles to collapse during expiration, trapping the stale air inside the air sacs and causing respiratory acidosis.
Asthma is another chronic inflammatory lung disorder that has been frequently related to respiratory acidosis. This lung abnormality, characterized by obstruction, inflammation and hyper-responsiveness of the airway muscles, is often accompanied by mucus, wheezing, coughing, tight chest, congestion and more. Contraction of the airways causes difficult in exhaling leading to respiratory acidosis in some patients.
Another key cause of respiratory acidosis may be chronic bronchitis, a progressive lung abnormality, characterized by a persistent woofing cough and difficulty in respiring. Overexposure to smoke, fumes, dust and air pollution destroys the elasticity of bronchioles and alveoli over the time, congesting the airways and causing respiratory acidosis.
At times neuromuscular conditions like scoliosis can trigger respiratory ailments by reducing the lungs capacity to empty and fill. Scoliosis is defined as an abnormal curvature in the spine that can curve from side-to-side or bend from front-to-back. The severity of this disease usually depends on the degree of its curvature. At times the curve is slew enough to threaten the lungs and hearts. Patients suffering from severe scoliosis may complain of respiratory acidosis.
Obese patients often complain of shortness of breath or breathlessness. Respiratory problems go hand in hand with obesity. That is because when a person puts on more weight, the chest wall expands thereby squeezing the lungs and causing difficulty in breathing. This can at times result in respiratory acidosis in obese patients.