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Acute Respiratory Failure

– In this condition, the lungs are unable to adequately exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide because of insufficient ventilation.

Acute Respiratory Failure is a definite big topic in the NCEX.  We can define acute respiratory failure as the lungs’ failure to meet with the body’s oxygen requirements.  One of the biggest acute respiratory condition that you have to be familiar with would be ARDS or Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome.

Lungs of an ARDS patient

As you can see clearly in the Xray the difference between a normal lung and a patient with ARDS.

Clinical Symptoms in patients would include: Restlessness, anxiety and dyspnea.  While objective finding would include tachycardia, grunting respirations, intercostal retractions and cyanosis.

Interventions for patient with ARDS would include, relieving the underlying cause, Mechanical Ventilation with positive end respiratory pressure or PEEP.  What PEEP does is that, this setting on a mechanical ventilator maintains a positive pressure within the lungs at the end of expiration, this in turn would increase the residual capacity of the lungs, therefore reducing hypoxia.



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