Respiratory failure is a problem getting gases in and out of the blood. Oxygen helps the body work well. Carbon dioxide is a waste product made in the body. It needs to pass out of the body through the lungs. Respiratory failure may be:
Low levels of oxygen in the blood
High levels of carbon dioxide in the blood
Both low oxygen levels and high carbon dioxide levels
Acute respiratory failure—approach to the patient. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/approach-to/acute-respiratory-failure-approach-to-the-patient. Accessed August 10, 2021.
Lamba TS, Sharara RS, et al. Pathophysiology and classification of respiratory failure. Crit Care Nurs Q. 2016;39(2):85-93.
Overview of respiratory failure. The Merck Manual Professional Edition. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/critical-care-medicine/respiratory-failure-and-mechanical-ventilation/overview-of-respiratory-failure . Accessed August 10, 2021.
Respiratory failure. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute website. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/respiratory-failure . Accessed August 10, 2021.
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at email@example.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.