What is respiratory failure?

Jump To

How is respiratory failure treated?

To help your lungs get enough oxygen, your doctor may use a few devices. These vary in how much oxygen they give and how they help you breathe. They are:

  • A nasal cannula (say "KAN-yuh-luh"). This is a thin tube with two prongs that fit just inside your nose.
  • A special face mask that delivers more oxygen. There are different kinds. A face mask with a bag on one end is called a non-rebreather mask.
  • A high-flow nasal cannula. It can warm and wet the oxygen it delivers, so getting high amounts of oxygen feels better.
  • A face mask that gives you oxygen through a bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP) machine. It uses different air pressures when you breathe in and out.
  • A ventilator that helps you breathe or that breathes for you. It controls how much air and oxygen flow into your lungs. This machine requires a breathing tube in your windpipe. It can be uncomfortable, so you may get medicine to help you relax or sleep. You also will get fluid through an intravenous (I.V.) tube.

You will get regular tests to see how much oxygen is in your blood. Tests also can show how well the lungs are working. These tests help your doctor adjust the machines and the oxygen supply.

The doctor will watch you closely.

What is respiratory failure?

Your lungs give your body oxygen when you breathe. They also remove the waste product carbon dioxide from your body. Respiratory failure happens when the lungs aren't able to move enough oxygen into the blood and move enough carbon dioxide out of the blood. This is a severe problem that may need to be treated in intensive care.

Many things can cause lung failure. They include pneumonia and other serious infections. The doctor will look for the cause of the problem and then treat it if possible.

©2011-2024 Healthwise, Incorporated

The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.