Acute and Chronic Lung Disease

Acute and Chronic Respiratory Failure is a term used to describe severe breathing problems. These problems can be caused by a variety of things - and will require specific treatment(s) in response. Contact us today for an evaluation!
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Ohio Chest Physicians

Our lungs have an important job to do. They're responsible for providing us with oxygen, as well as for removing carbon dioxide from our bodies. Unfortunately, sometimes our lungs cannot perform one of these functions as well as they should. When this happens, we can experience a respiratory failure that leaves us with low oxygen levels, elevated carbon dioxide levels, or both. Either type of issue is problematic. Fortunately, there is care and help available for both.

If you or a loved one are struggling with pulmonary health issues, it’s important to contact a pulmonary specialist for evaluation and treatment. That’s where we come in. Formed in January of 1997, Ohio Chest Physicians, LTD., is a thriving independent practice focused on pulmonary health. Most importantly, we will do all we can to provide you with the best care possible!

Please feel free to contact us or request an appointment online. We are always happy to help!

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FAQs on Acute and Chronic Respiratory Failure

What Causes Acute and Chronic Respiratory Failure?

Respiratory failure can be surprisingly complicated. Think of our lungs as you would a car or other pieces of machinery. If one part can't do its job, the entire vehicle can be impaired. Similarly, breathing involves many moving parts - and when one part malfunctions, we suffer for it. 

Common causes of both acute and chronic respiratory failure include: 

  • A chest injury 
  • An overdose (on alcohol or drugs) 
  • Lung damage from fumes or smoke inhalation 
  • Lung diseases (including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pneumonia)
  • Scoliosis and other spine problems (they can affect bones and muscles that support pulmonary health)

Are Certain Things More Likely to Cause Different Types of Respiratory Issues?

Acute respiratory failure tends to develop in response to a sudden, severe injury. Choking, drowning, and taking a hit to the chest are all likely to create a sudden and severe respiratory issue. Sometimes illnesses that swiftly and severely affect the lungs can also cause acute respiratory problems.

Chronic respiratory failure, however, usually develops due to long-term issues that affect your lungs and breathing capacity. Chronic lung conditions such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are more likely to lead to long-term breathing problems and failures.

What are the Symptoms of Respiratory Failure?

Symptoms of this health issue, like its causes, can be varied. However, patients are most likely to notice some combination of the following symptoms: 

  • Blue tinting in their fingernails, lips, and skin 
  • A constant feeling of being short of and out of breath 
  • Confusion and disorientation 
  • Abnormal breathing (that may feel slow or rapid) 
  • Lethargy or drowsiness

How Do Doctors Diagnose this Health Issue?

Doctors will start with a physical exam and take your medical history. This allows them to look for specific red flags of respiratory failure as well as other illnesses. Doctors will also measure your oxygen level (using a noninvasive device placed on the finger or ear) or run a blood test to measure your levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide. Based on the findings from initial tests, doctors may recommend further evaluation. Tools for additional testing include things like a chest X-ray or EKG.

What are the Treatment Options for Respiratory Failure?

Each patient will require a different treatment approach, depending on the severity of their symptoms, the cause of their illness, and whether their respiratory failure is chronic or acute. Possible treatment options include oxygen therapy (where a mask or pronged tube attached to a portable tank provides oxygen), ventilator use (to provide oxygen and lower carbon dioxide levels), or even treating the underlying cause of the respiratory problems. Treatments for pneumonia, blood clots, closed airways, and more can all minimize the effects of respiratory failure.

What Should I Expect from Ohio Chest Physicians?

At Ohio Chest Physicians, LTD., our doctors are board-certified specialists in pulmonary, critical care, sleep, and internal medicine. In addition to offering specialized pulmonary care via our multiple offices, we work directly with the West Region Sleep Center to conduct patient sleep testing. Sleep testing may be necessary to provide sleep aids to patients struggling with respiratory failure. A properly fitted sleep aid will help provide oxygen and/or lower carbon monoxide levels even in a patient’s sleep.

The Center is accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) - this certifies that the Center meets or exceeds all AASM standards for professional, quality health care. Center physicians are specialists in the field of sleep medicine, and Center sleep technicians are aided by the latest in diagnostic technology. 

To evaluate patients who may need specialized assistance for respiratory failure, we will refer you to the Center for an overnight observational test. Once testing is complete, the Center will report its findings back to us for your follow-up care at your Ohio Chest Physicians office of choice. From there, we can provide medical recommendations to help you cope with your symptoms and return to a more normal state of being.

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