Carolyn's Collection

CO2 Retention and
Respiratory Acidosis
Hi Folks,

Yesterday we talked about being SOB (short of breath) and what causes it. 
So today we will go over what is it like to be a CO2 (carbon dioxide) retainer.  Now I did not know a lot about this before hand.  So I decided to do a little research and here is what Medline Plus starts out by saying:

"Respiratory acidosis occurs when the lungs cannot remove all of the carbon dioxide (a normal by-product of metabolism) produced by the body. Because of this disturbance of the acid-base balance, body fluids become excessively acidic.

Respiratory acidosis can be a consequence of any lung disease that prevents removal of carbon dioxide. Common lung diseases that lead to respiratory acidosis include:
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD),
Click here
or severe asthma
Click here

Some of the symptoms of CO2 retention are - chronic cough, chronic SOB, tiring easy and wheezing.   But wait - aren't those the same symptoms that happen when you are low on O2?

Yup they sure are,  because when you have too much CO2 in your lungs you obviously(to the doctors at least) have not enough O2

Well, won't an Oximeter let me know if my O2 is too low and then I suspect
I have CO2 retention?

Again,  an Oximeter could be telling you ...your O2 levels are just fine! 
This can and does happen with people who have Respiratory Acidosis.  
Oh they can take an X-ray to see if you have anything else visible going on in your lungs and they can do a PFT (Pulmonary Function Test) to tell us we have COPD but the ONLY real way to know if you are a CO2 retainer is by an ABG(arterial blood gas)  An ABG is really not deadly (and I have found if you get good Pulmonary tech
they are virtually painless)

What can you do if you are retaining CO2? 
Well one of the things you can do is learn to do Pursed Lip Breathing all the time  because retention is really where we do not exhale enough to get rid of the carbon dioxide in our lungs.   So by PLB'ing we are exhaling longer then we are inhaling and finding we can take deeper breaths that way.There are a few exercises for the lungs that can help but this is something your doctor has to prescribe. 

The one big thing...well maybe not #1 but right up there....is you have to make sure you are not taking in too much O2. Because too much O2 can and will create excess of Carbon dioxide in someone who has Respiratory Acidosis.

There is more out there on the Web than the article I quoted and if you go searching on your own you can "Google"
" Respiratory Acidosis"


Remember,  Growing old is mandatory but Growing up is optional
And Laughter is still the best Medicine!

Carolyn-Mi