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Discover what is Chronic Respiratory Failure

understanding the pathology

Chronic Respiratory Failure: What is it?

It is characterized by the inability of the lungs to maintain normal levels of gases (O² and CO²) in the blood . It is most often due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) associated in most cases with smoking or occupational exposure to pollutants. But various diseases can also cause oxygen deficiency : interstitial lung disease, cystic fibrosis, severe chronic asthma, congenital heart disease, advanced lung cancer, pulmonary hypertension, etc.

Types of Chronic Respiratory Failure

Obstructive respiratory failure: results from a partial obstruction of the airways that reduces the flow of oxygen. Three lung diseases can be associated as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma and emphysema.

Restrictive respiratory failure: related to a decrease in lung capacity, which can be caused by damage to the respiratory pump and changes in the respiratory center in the brain.

Know the Diagnosis

Learn about some of the medical procedures that make it possible to establish the diagnosis and assess the severity of the disease

  • Oximetry is the estimation of the amount of oxygen in the blood or oxygen saturation (SpO²). This test can indicate if the blood oxygen level is too low (SpO2²<88%). 
  • Arterial blood gas analysis allows you to accurately measure the amounts of O² (or PaO²) and carbon dioxide (or PaCO²) present in the blood.
  • Spirometry and pulmonary function testing: evaluates lung capacity and volumes in order to detect the type and its severity.
  • Cardiac assessment by electrocardiogram and ultrasound.

Tips to live better

Tips on lifestyle changes can be complemented by chest physiotherapy, in order to clear the bronchi, and by drug treatments for comfort and stabilization of the disease.

  • Eliminate risk factors such as quitting smoking, avoiding aggravating factors such as secondhand smoke, pollution and over medication that can harm your breathing with medical determination.
  • Adopt a balanced diet;
  • Practice physical activity regularly: it will help you to prevent muscle wasting and preserve your freedom and autonomy.

Learn about treatment



2. -domicile-insuffisance-respiratoire/diagnostic-linsuffisance-respiratoire

3. Chronic respiratory failure and acute respiratory failure, E Orvoën-Frija, Pitié-Salpêtrière, 2011)

4. Chronic respiratory failure m. Krempf, m. Murris, s. Pontier (Toulouse Faculty of Medicine)