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Are there warning signs of respiratory failure in critical care?

Julia Vicente, MSN
Critical Care Nursing
Yes, most often there are warning signs of respiratory failure in critical care. When we breathe we take in oxygen and eliminate the body's waste through our lungs by breathing. If that breathing is impaired for any reason (injury, illness, brain injury, drugs, fatigue, etc) then there will be an impairment in breathing. We will often see an alteration in a persons mental state because he or she might not be getting enough oxygen to the brain. We might see a change in the way a person breathes, either too fast or too slow, too deep or too shallow. We might also see a decrease in the oxygen numbers (SP02) on the monitor or other vital sign changes.  The skin might get moist and pale (later signs). The person might become anxious or confused. If the person is on a breathing machine there will be other signs as well.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.