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 CO2 retention /Respiratory Acidosis
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4346 Posts

Posted - May 17 2009 :  8:46:32 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi Folks,
The other day I talked about being SOB (Short of Breathe)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), severe <>asthma, or

<>airway obstruction."

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 are obviously(to the drs at least) do not have enough O2. Well won't an Oximeter let me know if my O2 is too low and then I suspect I have CO 2 retention.
Again, and Oximeter could be telling you ...your O2 levels are just fine! This can and does happen with people who have Respiratory Acidisis. Oh they can take an X-ray to see if you have anything else visible going on in 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) And that will only tell you if you are retaining at the moment. But once you have been diagnosed as a retainer, you will be more prepared as to what to do.
What can you do if you are retaining CO2? Well one of the things you can do is learn to PLB all the time because retention is really where we do not exhale enough to get rid of the carbon in our lungs. So by PLB'ing (PLB - Pursed Lip Breathing - Inhale slowly through nose to the count of 4 - Exhale slowly through pursed lips as if blowing out candles. Smell the Roses Blow out the Candles.) we are exhaling longer then we are inhaling and finding we can take deeper breathes that way.

There are a few exercises for the lungs that can help but this is something your Dr has to prescribe. The one big thing...well maybe not #1 but right up you have to make sure you are not taking in too much O2. When you are retaining you get more SOB and many of us tend to try and add more O2 when this happens. More O2 at this time is NOT at all helpful, because your lungs have no place to put it! You are filled with CO2. This is the reason you may hear some folks say that too much O2 is harmful. It is NOT harmful but counter productive when you don't have room for it.

There is more out there on the Web and I quoted part of

They have more information there and if you go searching on your own you can Goggle Respiratory Acidosis.
emember, Growing old is mandatory but Growing up is optional
And Laughter is still the best Medicine!

Dave, Forum Administrator
COPD Support, Inc.
Your source for peer support and COPD Info

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Mike MI

19 Posts

Posted - Feb 25 2018 :  5:42:30 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I Hate the ABG test, where I live in a small town the phlebotomist in the hospital here took 12 attempts before she succeeded and this was the 5th time she did it to me. My whole hand turned black and blue for a week afterward. I would rather have a root canal without anesthetic while giving birth to a medicine ball rather than another ABG test.
However. I liked your post as a whole though. Very true the EMT's were always remarking my saturation was showing ok, while in route to the hospital for SOB. After a long visit with uncle Bi-Pap and morphine, with antibiotics for several days it is all ok.

Mike Hunt
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