Respiratory failure

inadequate gas exchange by the respiratory system

Respiratory failure is a medical condition which affects respiration. It means the alveoli in the lung are not getting enough oxygen. Because of this, gas exchange in the blood is reduced. Respiratory failure will lead to a person's death. For this reason, it is a medical emergency. Emergency treatment of respiratory failure is very similar to that of cardiopulmonary resuscitation.



Respiratory failure has been classified by its cause:

  • In obstructive respiratory failure, there is a mechanical problem that blocks or tightens the passage of the air. Examples of conditions that can produce this include Asthma and Cystic fibrosis.
  • In restrictive respiratory failure, the volume of the person's rib cage is reduced. An example for this is Scoliosis.
  • In traumatic respiratory failure, the air that is breathed takes the wrong route. Examples are Pneumothorax and Hemothorax.

Also, respiratory failure can be classified by the speed at which it happens:

  • Chronic respiratory failure develops at slow speed over time.
  • Acute respiratory failure develops rapidly