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Causes and Symptoms of Hypercapnia

Referencing Styles : MLA | Pages : 1

Why Hypercapnia happens?

Hypercapnia or also known hypercarbia is a medical term in which a person carries excessive amount of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream. It is usually the result of hypoventilation that is a state where a person is not able to breathe properly and get oxygen into the lungs. When a person does not get enough oxygen, and at one stroke excess amount of carbon dioxide is inhaled inside the body. There are many possible conditions in which hypercapnia can occur which may include trauma, infection or some of the lungs disease. The hypercapnia generally triggers a reflex which can increase breathing and access to oxygen such as arousal and turning the head during sleep. When there is an increased level of carbon dioxide in the body, this happens when breathing is impaired and lungs are unable to move oxygen into the blood stream easily and remove carbon dioxide from the body which represents exchange of gas. This can generally cause a low oxygen level and higher level of carbon dioxide in the body. This condition of the body represents respiratory failure. This condition can also arise when there is a chest damage.

A failure of this reflex can be fatal, for example as a contributory factor in sudden infant death syndrome.

The causes of hypercapnia:

In general state the body, carefully regulates the adequate amount of carbon dioxide in the blood. When the level of carbon dioxide is leveraged, there are special receptors that detect the increase and in turn, send messages to the brain to breathe more deeply or to move so that airflow is not obstructed. The possible causes of hypercapnia are:

When there is an increased dead space in the lungs that is when the blood supply to the area of the lungs is impaired so gases cannot be exchanged properly such as noted with ventilation-perfusion.

When there is an increased production of carbon dioxide by the body, when the body suffers with trauma.

When the body rebreathes exhaled carbon dioxide, from outside then the amount of carbon dioxide in the body increase causing hypercapniia.

Disruption of the signals indicates that the signals given to the brain to breathe more when the level of oxygen is very low, such case can occur the body to inhale more carbon dioxide. In this particular situation oxygen is given to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients.

Medical Condition: There are a number of medical conditions that may be responsible for hypercapnia and some of these may do so through more than one of the mechanism at play when carbon dioxide builds up in the blood.

Neurological disorders or diseases:  The overdose of narcotics causes respiratory depression or with degenerative neurological conditions, the brain does not respond to the commands to increase breathing as it ordinarily would, as a result of this carbon dioxide is accumulated in the body.  There are certain examples for better understanding:

Some nervous system or muscles disorder such as encephalitis, muscular dystrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or myasthenia gravis can cause carbon dioxide accumulation.

When there is a drug overdose such as opioid or benzodiazepine.

Brainstem stroke also causes accumulation of excessive carbon dioxide.

The other possible causes of hypercapnia such as hypothermia, improper setting on a ventilator, scuba diving, severe illness or trauma and it is also caused due to obesity hypoventilation syndrome.

The symptoms of Hypercapnia

The symptoms of early signs of hypecapnia include flushed skin, full pulse, dyspnea, extrasystoles and tachypnea, hand flaps, muscles twitches, reduced neural activity and possible raised blood pressure. Some of the mild symptoms of hypercapnia might include confusion, headache, lethargy. Hypercapnia can also induce increased cardiac output, an elevation in arterial blood pressure (Higher levels of carbon dioxide stimulates aortic and carotid chemoreceptors with afferents –CN IX and X-to medulla oblongata with following chrono- and ino- tropic effects) and a propensity towards arrhythmias. Some of these symptoms are not specific having awareness is quiet important for human life these are some of the conditions which must not be missed. Some of the symptoms must not be neglected as they can cause severe respiratory failure and possibly leading to death The symptoms and signs may include: paranoia, depression and confusion, which may progress to coma, muscle twitches, seizures, palpitations, panic or a feeling of impending doom, dilation or widening of superficial veins in the skin and papilledema this is the condition where the area surrounding the optic nerves that can be seen on an eye exam.

The diagnosis of hypercapnia is done very carefully as the symptoms can be related to dreadful diseases or disorders. There are physical exam combined with having a high index of suspicion that the condition may exist. An increase in carbon dioxide in the blood also lowers the ph of the blood stream which causes acidosis, a condition which is referred to respiratory acidosis. The other test may be used to look for the underlying heath conditions. These conditions are generally diagnosed based upon the results of an arterial blood gas, with a carbon dioxide pressure of 45 mm Hg or above being diagnostic.

Treatment of Hypercapnia

The treatment of hypercapnia depends on the range its severity. In order to cure hypercapnia supportive care must be taken and treatment options are very much necessary while physicians address and treat the underlying cause of the condition. There are many ways of treating hypercapnia that is medically and naturally, the natural care must be done enduring certain measures.

The primary step of treating hypercapnia involves restoring ventilation,  so that carbon dioxide can be removed from the body and the body would lower the accumulation of excessive carbon dioxide in the body and this may include:

The other way based on impressive clinical evidence (measurements of carbon dioxide in sick and health people), the Soviet physiologist Dr. KP Buteyko accompanied by some 150 doctors (believers of Buteyko are breathing) suggested a different conceptualization for hypocapnia. The doctors tested half a million individuals and found that good health, much energy, physical exercise, consuming unprocessed foods, naturally short sleep of 4 to 5 hours and other positive results are possible when people have even more carbon dioxide in the pulmonary alveoli and blood from the arteries. There are certain medications for hypercapnia like antibiotics to treat pneumonia of for other respiratory infections. Bronchodilators are a drug which is used to open the airways. Corticosteriods are used to reduce the inflammation in the airways. There are many other forms of treatment that is through oxygen therapy which is employed in order to prevent the sequelae of long-standing hypoxemia. Some natural ways of lowering the level of carbon dioxide from the body are:

Keeping the body hydrated as much as possible and other fluids as they can contain oxygen molecules.

The diabetic patients must keep control over their health, if they are able to manage blood sugar level, then it is possible to avoid ketoacidosis.

One must avoid drinking alcohol in excessive amount, excessive drinking of alcohol can buildup lactic acid.


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