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
Obstructive sleep apnea
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, before the kidneys can return the body to a state of balance.
Some people with chronic respiratory acidosis get acute respiratory acidosis because an illness makes their condition worse.
Symptoms may include:
Shortness of breath
Exams 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
Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.