Respiratory Acidosis

How to Cite This Chapter: To KCY, Kokot F, Franek E. Respiratory Acidosis. McMaster Textbook of Internal Medicine. Kraków: Medycyna Praktyczna. Accessed January 18, 2021.
Last Updated: June 13, 2018
Last Reviewed: May 17, 2019
Chapter Information

Definition, Etiology, PathogenesisTop

Respiratory acidosis is defined as a decrease in blood pH to <7.35 due to hypercapnia.

Causes of abnormal ventilation: see Respiratory Failure.

Hypoventilation leads to CO2 retention, hypercapnia, and respiratory acidosis. Respiratory acidosis may be acute or chronic. Physiologic mechanisms that counteract respiratory acidosis include the binding of H+ by intracellular buffers and increased renal production of bicarbonate HCO3 in the process of ammonia production.

Clinical Features and DiagnosisTop

Manifestations of respiratory acidosis include features of acute or chronic respiratory failure. Blood pH may be normal or decreased and variable increases in blood [HCO3] may be seen as a compensatory mechanism.


Treatment of respiratory acidosis depends on the underlying condition.

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