Causes and Diagnoses

Causes and Diagnoses of Respiratory Failure

The causes of respiratory failure include a variety of lung diseases and neuromuscular conditions. Causes include:

Other risk factors for respiratory failure include:

  • Smoking
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Family history of respiratory disease
  • Weakened immune system

Diagnosing respiratory failure

A diagnosis of respiratory failure begins with a physical exam and discussion of your symptoms. Other tests may include:

  • Spirometry: This test measures the quantity and speed of air you exhale to estimate how much your bronchial tubes are inflamed and narrowed.
  • Peak flow meter: This device measures how hard you can exhale. Peak flow meters can be used at home to monitor your condition.
  • Arterial blood gas: This blood test checks the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your blood and measures your blood’s acidity.
  • Pulse oximetry: An oximeter measures the amount of oxygen in your blood with a sensor that’s clipped onto your finger.
  • Chest X-ray: This test can identify the presence of blockages in the airway.

Diagnostic Tests