Respiratory depression is also known by its scientific name known as hypoventilation. It is a breathing disorder that decreases the supply of oxygen to the lungs. Take an example of the normal breathing cycle in which our blood carries the blood to every part of our body. And, takes back the carbon dioxide to the lungs which we exhale. During the condition of respiratory depression, the patient is unable to remove carbon dioxide which means too little oxygen is available for the body. There are different respiratory depression symptoms as well. Let’s discuss further on respiratory depression.
Respiratory Depression Symptoms:
The symptoms can vary from the range of mild to moderate to severe which includes:
- You will fatigue or tiredness
- You will feel sleepy mostly at the day times
- Slow breathing with sometimes shortness of breath
- Phases of depression
If the same condition goes on with the patient, he/she is likely to go through these symptoms of respiratory depression.
- Your fingers, toes, or lips will go bluish even if you are not dehydrated.
- Confusion and headaches that can be severe sometimes
These symptoms can be the increased shortening of oxygen or the increase of carbon dioxide in the body. Some people also experience fast breathing at this time as well. This can be because the carbon dioxide is exhaling out from the body at a higher pace.
What Are the Causes of Respiratory Depression:
After the discussion of respiratory depression symptoms, let’s analyze the causes which can create this severe problem for anyone.
- The patient is going through a chronic lung disease that is blocking the airways from passing out carbon dioxide
- Collapsing of airways while you are sleeping can reduce the oxygen levels in the body
- Any brain injury can cause damage to the nerves that weaken the functioning of the body
- Severe obesity can make it hard to breathe
- In case of chest wall deformities, it is problematic for the person to exhale or inhale
Also, such a condition can be caused as a side effect due to certain medications if they are taken in large amounts. There are many types of depressant drugs that can slow down our respiratory system and even cause a side effect that can lead to Hypoventilation. Medications like alcohol, sedatives, opioids, and barbiturates can cause a tremendous effect on the respiratory system. You may even feel trouble breathing through the initial use of these drugs.
Diagnose of Respiratory Depression Symptoms:
It is considered imperative that if you experience any of these symptoms, you must go to your doctor immediately. The doctor might ask you about your symptoms and what medications you have been taking in the past. You will go through a physical examination to ensure a proper diagnosis before you start your treatment. There are a variety of tests that are done for the assessment of your condition which are:
- A chest X-ray will show the condition of the lungs and any other abnormalities that may show the reason for less blood supply
- The doctor also might take your lung functioning test to evaluate how well they are functioning
- A blood gas test will determine the amount of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the blood. It will give promising results for the evaluation that whether you are suffering from this problem or not
- Pulse oximetry test to determine the oxygen level while you are breathing, standing, or walking
- Hemoglobin test to see the number of red blood cells in your blood that are responsible to carry oxygen to all parts of your body
- Whether your airways are blocked or not while you are asleep. If that’s the case, then there are products available now that can help with that.
Can there be any complications with this problem?
Although the respiratory depression symptoms are mostly mild for patients that doesn’t mean that it cannot get severed. A lot of patients are living around the world a normal life with this problem but they are under treatment which makes them feel better. As said above, there are many tests that you have to go through which determine that whether you are going through this problem or not. Like any other disease, if it’s left untreated then it can be chronic for the body.
There are a lot of patients that come with an overdose of alcohol who are suffering from respiratory depression. At this point, their condition can become fatal and cause hypertension which can cause failure in the right side of the heart. Sometimes, the heart can completely stop breathing and needs immediate treatment to save the patient life.
Diagnose of Respiratory Depression Symptoms:
Well, other than the fact that it can be fatal one should know that it’s treatable if you take proper care of yourself. The treatments although vary depending upon the severity and the cause of your problem. Sometimes through medications, you can also get side effects so stopping the medication may help you with breathing. There are also other treatments like:
- Oxygen therapy is one of the easiest ways that patients can do it themselves at home. It ensures you have proper airflow and supply of oxygen in the blood to ease your pain in breathing
- If you are obese, then you should consider weight loss as it will help you with your breathing issue
- CPAP machines are the new technology which you can use for sleep apnea or problem in breathing while you are asleep. It will make sure that you have a constant airflow while you are sleeping
- Inhale medications that are prescribed by your doctor for the ongoing treatment of respiratory depression symptoms.