Guide To The Causes Of Acute Respiratory Failure

March 7, 2024

The primary purpose of the respiratory system is to exchange gases when individuals breathe. The lungs are the most important part of this system. Failure occurs when the system struggles to remove the carbon dioxide from the air individuals breathe or when they don't take in enough oxygen. It's a dangerous health condition that requires immediate medical attention. However, there are two types of respiratory failure. Acute respiratory failure is short-term. It's here, it's treated, and then it's gone. Chronic is not temporary, and it requires treatment that's long-term and ongoing. Most chronic conditions are a result of narrowed airways that are also damaged.

Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome

Acute respiratory distress syndrome occurs when fluid leaks into the lungs. The result of this occurrence is the lack of ability to get oxygen into the organs. Everyone's organs require oxygen to function normally and properly, which is why this condition is so dangerous. What's good news, however, is acute means temporary in this situation, though if this occurs, patients do need to seek medical help right away. The doctor must drain the fluid from the patient's lungs as it can quickly become much worse.

It's easily treatable in most cases, but quick action is important. The longer organs go without the oxygen they need, the more likely patients are to suffer from additional health issues such as organ failure. The kidneys and brain are highly susceptible to damage if the patient's body lacks the oxygen it needs. If blood pressure is low, individuals will be breathing quickly, and their lips will turn blue. When those symptoms are accompanied by dizziness and confusion, it might be a sign of acute respiratory distress syndrome.

Chemical Inhalation

Chemical inhalation is one of the leading causes of acute respiratory failure. Whether those chemicals are harmful substances found in certain working conditions or elsewhere, these chemicals harm the body in more ways than one. One thing many individuals fail to realize is chemical inhalation can happen even without prolonged and direct exposure, such as working in a high-risk environment. It's sometimes more innocent and unnoticeable than that. It can occur when individuals inhale smoke or fumes. The fumes at the gas tank when individuals pump gas into their car are harmful. A fire that causes too much smoke inhalation is harmful.

Smoking is another problem. These chemicals might not harm individuals right away, but they work diligently to damage the tissues in the lungs. Once those tissues are damaged enough, patients will begin struggling to breathe. It's important for individuals who work with chemicals regularly to wear a mask when they work. It's also helpful to use a mask when cleaning the home with chemicals. It's better to be safe than it is to be sorry.

Obstruction In The Throat

Obstruction in the throat is a leading cause of acute respiratory failure. This does not necessarily mean an obstruction in the throat that results in choking. It means many things. A throat obstruction can occur following an allergic reaction. The trachea swells when an allergic reaction is bad enough, and it becomes difficult to breathe. Obstructions, as many know, occur when foreign objects become stuck in the throat and individuals choke on them. It can occur when there is a collection of infected substances in the airway that block it from allowing oxygen into the body.

Cancer is another problem that might cause a blockage in the airway. Obstruction comes in many forms, and it's important to recognize the signs of this type of problem. If individuals are struggling to breathe regularly, they should call their doctor and get it checked out. There is never a good time to let repeated breathing issues go.


A stroke can hinder an individual's ability to properly breathe and cause them to experience acute respiratory failure. This is a serious health condition that requires immediate medical attention. Fortunately, a stroke often comes with a few warning signs. One of the most common is sudden and unprovoked slurred speech. Confusion that comes on without warning is another sign. Additionally, this kind of health condition only affects one side of the body, so patients might feel numbness on one side of the body. When this happens, it affects the brain, which then affects the opposite side of the body.

For example, experiencing one in the left side of the brain will affect the right side of the body. It also causes the body to stop functioning properly in other ways, and an individual's breathing ability might be one of those ways. If patients cannot breathe and they worry this is happening, they should call a doctor or an ambulance right away. Quick treatment saves lives and prevents permanent damage to the body and organs.


An injury is another common cause of acute respiratory failure, and it can happen in many ways. Most of the injuries that cause an individual's breathing to become difficult include spinal cord and brain injuries. These can happen anywhere at any time. From a car accident to a sporting accident, it's not uncommon for this problem to occur without any warning. Other accidents can also injure individuals enough to affect their breathing, but brain injuries are the most common due to the fact it's the brain that tells the body to take breaths. Other injuries with the ability to affect an individual's breathing include chest injuries and rib injuries.

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