Diseases affecting the nerves and muscles that "signal" the lungs to inflate or deflate
Drugs that suppress breathing (including powerful pain medicines, such as narcotics, and "downers," such as benzodiazepines), especially when combined with alcohol
Severe obesity, which restricts how much the lungs can expand
Chronic respiratory acidosis occurs over a long period of time. This leads to a stable situation, because the kidneys increase body chemicals, such as bicarbonate, that help restore the body's acid-base balance.
Acute respiratory acidosis is a condition in which carbon dioxide builds up very quickly and before the kidneys can return the body to a state of balance.
Symptoms may include:
Shortness of breath
Signs and tests
The health care provider will perform a physical exam. Tests that may be done include:
Arterial blood gas, which measures oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the blood
Effros RM, Swenson ER. Acid-base balance. In: Mason RJ, Broaddus CV, Martin TR, et al. Murray & Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 7.
David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.