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What Is Acute Respiratory Failure & What are its Complications?

What Is Acute Respiratory Failure?

Acute Respiratory Failure is a potentially serious medical condition in which there is accumulation of fluid within the air sacs in the lungs. This results in decreased ability of the lungs to release oxygen in the bloodstream. This leads to less amount of oxygenated blood reaching the vital organs and causing them to malfunction. An increased level of carbon dioxide due to the inability of the lungs to remove carbon dioxide from the body can also cause Acute Respiratory Failure. This condition can be acute or chronic. In Acute Respiratory Failure, the symptom onset will be sudden with the individual displaying symptoms due to inadequate supply of oxygen in the blood. In the chronic form, the symptom onset is a bit delayed, but in almost all the cases, if this condition is not treated emergently, then the affected individual succumbs to this condition.

What are the Causes & Risk Factors of Acute Respiratory Failure

Some of the common causes of Acute Respiratory Failure are Obstruction in which a foreign body like a piece of meat or bone obstructs the airway and makes it difficult for the individual to breathe in enough oxygen. People with chronic form of COPD also have problems with obstruction causing Acute Respiratory Failure.(2) An injury to the lungs like a gunshot or a stab wound may also result in the individual having Acute Respiratory Failure.(2)

Excessive drug and alcohol abuse can also result in an individual developing Acute Respiratory Failure.(1) Inhalation of toxic chemical fumes either accidentally or while working in places like a chemical plant also increases the risk for an individual having Acute Respiratory Failure.(2 An individual who has suffered a stroke also is at risk for developing Acute Respiratory Failure.(2) Medical conditions like pneumonia, COPD, and Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome also all potentially common causes of Acute Respiratory Failure.

It is well known that Acute Respiratory Failure is an emergent medical condition requiring immediate treatment or else it may be fatal for the affected individual. This article talks about some of the potential complications of Acute Respiratory Failure.

What are the Complications of Respiratory Failure?

In majority of the cases, acute respiratory failure is potentially fatal. The complications that may arise due to this condition can be broadly categorized into two parts of which one is pulmonary complications and the other is extrapulmonary complications.

Pulmonary Complications from Respiratory Failure(3): Some of the pulmonary complications that can develop as a result of Acute Respiratory Failure are pulmonary emboli, fibrosis, and pneumonia. If an individual is on tracheal intubation or mechanical ventilation due to some other medical condition, then this also increases the risk for a pulmonary complication.

Extrapulmonary Complications from Respiratory Failure(3): Some of the extrapulmonary complications of Acute Respiratory Failure are gastrointestinal hemorrhage, kidney failure and thrombocytopenia. Early diagnosis and aggressive treatment of the condition may prevent these potentially fatal complications and increase the mortality of the individual dealing with Acute Respiratory Failure.


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:May 1, 2020

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