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Acute Respiratory Failure

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:

  • Tachypnea
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety and Dyspnea.

Some objective findings

  • tachycardia
  • grunting respirations
  • intercostal retractions
  • cyanosis


Mechanical Ventilation with positive end respiratory pressure or PEEP.


– maintains a positive pressure within the lungs at the end of expiration.

– Evaluate the ABG’s
– Maintaining proper oxygenation
– Main treatment: PEEP (Positive End Expiratory Pressure).


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