If your lungs cannot deliver oxygen to your blood, it places you at risk for organ failure.

What is respiratory failure?

Respiratory failure occurs when too little oxygen passes from your lungs to your blood. In addition, respiratory failure can happen if your lungs fail to prevent carbon dioxide (a waste gas) from entering your blood.

What causes respiratory failure?

  • Lung diseases, such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), pneumonia, pulmonary embolism and cystic fibrosis.
  • Conditions that affect the nerves and muscles that control breathing, such as strokes, spinal cord injuries and muscular dystrophy.
  • Damage to the tissues and ribs around the lungs.
  • Drug or alcohol overdose.
  • Injuries from inhaling smoke or harmful fumes.

What are the symptoms of respiratory failure?

Your body’s organs, such as your heart and brain, need oxygen-rich blood to work well. Too much carbon dioxide in your blood also can harm your body’s organs.

How does Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center diagnose respiratory failure?

Your doctor may listen for unusual sounds from your heart and examine you for signs of respiratory failure, such as bluish color on your lips, skin and fingernails. To check the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in your blood, you may undergo several diagnostic tests, including a pulse oximetry and an arterial blood gas test.

How does Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center treat respiratory failure?

Treatment depends on the underlying cause, the severity of the condition and whether it’s acute (short term) or chronic (ongoing). You may receive oxygen therapy and other treatments to help you breathe.

Why choose Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center for respiratory failure treatment?

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, recognized by U.S.News & World Report as one of the nation’s best hospitals in pulmonology, has the only comprehensive lung and pulmonary center in central Ohio.

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