What Is Hypoventilation?

By james
Reviewed: Dr. Gromatzky
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There are few things as naturally pleasurable and reassuring as being able to take a deep breath of fresh air and fill your lungs with clean oxygen. This sensation is even more heightened when it comes after some exertion like running or hiking. With all the endorphins kicking in and a positive sense of well-being, it feels good to be alive.

However, this feeling is not always achievable when your respiratory system is not operating optimally. Hypoventilation is a condition whereby there is a decreased level of oxygen and elevated level of carbon dioxide in the blood. This is brought on by limited amounts of air entering into the alveoli in the lungs. Let us look at some key facts that will help explain how and why this happens.

1. Ventilation

Enjoying a deep drag of air is actually partaking of a biological activity that is facilitated by the inner workings of your lungs. As you breathe in, you pull oxygen-rich air into your lungs. At the same time, blood that has circulated around the body is delivering carbon-dioxide rich blood to the same lungs. At the pulmonary capillary bed, an exchange takes place. Carbon dioxide is expelled and oxygen absorbed. When hypoventilation occurs, there is low absorption of oxygen that causes carbon dioxide to buildup in the blood. This is technically described as an elevated arterial carbon dioxide tension (PaCO2).


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