The Revision Guide for Student Nurses (Part I)

Respiratory Failure - Key Notes


Signs of respiratory failure:

  • Cyanosis.
  • Tachypnoea.
  • Dyspnoea.
  • Orthopnoea.
  • Tachycardia.
  • Weak pulse.
  • Assuming sitting position with abducted elbows.
  • Collapse.
  • Unconsciousness.

Possible causes of respiratory failure:

  • Trauma (ruptured diaphragm, pneumothorax, haemeothorax).
  • Airway obstruction (pulmonary oedema, laryngeal paralysis).
  • Pulmonary embolism.
  • Neoplasia (with metastases to the lungs).
  • Anaesthetic overdose.
  • Pneumonia.
  • Hydrothorax (pleural effusion).
  • Paralysis of the respiratory muscles (tetanus).
  • Poisoning.
  • Gastric torsion (due to pressure on the diaphragm or circulatory compromise).
  • Brachycephalic airway obstruction syndrome (BAOS)