The breathing, although it has its nucleus of operation in the lungs, affects the functioning of the whole organism. Your…
The breathing, although it has its nucleus of operation in the lungs, affects the functioning of the whole organism. Your goal is achieve adequate amounts of oxygen in the blood (O2) and carbon dioxide (CO2).
That is precisely what is discussed in this article. To understand the first symptoms of respiratory failure, we will first make a brief review about what it is.
The respiratory movements are inspiration, introduction of air into the lungs, and expiration, expulsion (not to be confused with the expiration that refers to death!).
During inspiration, oxygen (along with all other gases that make up the air) is introduced into the lungs. This oxygen passes from the lungs to arteries , and from there to the cells.
Each cell, using oxygen (each performing its specific function) converts it to CO2. This goes to the veins, in this case to the pulmonary vein, and is eliminated with expiration.
Respiratory function It is measured with several parameters, but the ones that occupy us at this moment are the partial pressures and the respiratory frequency.
Respiratory failure is characterized as altered values of O2 and CO2 in arterial blood. The normal partial pressures of oxygen and CO2 are as follows:
It could be said, then, that one of the first symptoms of respiratory failure is the variation of these partial pressures. By definition in respiratory failure a depression of respiratory function occurs. We can conclude that it occurs:
As we have seen, respiratory failure is not a pathology in itself. It is rather consequence of pathologies that affect respiratory function. Some examples are:
Each of these pathologies will have specific symptoms. We will not develop them at this time because they are not strictly secondary to respiratory failure.
We will comment first dyspnea. It refers to the subjective sensation of difficulty in breathing. It is produced by the lack of oxygen. It is accompanied by restlessness and anxiety, secondary also to the lack of oxygen.
The lack of oxygen it also causes cyanosis, bluish coloration of the skin, and also of nails and mucous . Our skin is more or less pink due to the red coloration of the blood. The red color is given to the blood hemoglobin , protein that transports oxygen, when it is attached to it.
The less oxygen there is in the blood, the less hemoglobin binds to it, and the blood will be less red. So the cyanosis translates the darkening of the secondary blood to the lack of oxygen.
It shows also tachypnea: this term means rapid breathing (not to be confused with dyspnea). It is a reaction of the organism, which tries to eliminate carbon dioxide (increasing the respiratory rate). It will not work if, because of the underlying pathology, the lungs or respiratory muscles are damaged.
Everything together activates the sympathetic nervous system , the fight or flight system. It is activated when we are presented with a dangerous situation (in this case, the lack of oxygen). Promotes either of the two reactions mentioned above, which are the two possibilities we have before any stress.
So, activate a series of mechanisms that start or alert the body. In the context of the first symptoms of respiratory failure we find tachycardia and diaphoresis.
The tachycardia is the incrise of cardiac frecuency. It is the heart that pumps the blood to the cells, and therefore, is responsible for oxygen reaching all of them.
The organism try to make up for the lack of oxygen by getting more blood per unit of time to each cell, by tachycardia. An increase in sweating appears. It is what is known as diaphoresis.