Carbon dioxide is a very important gas which is exchanged with oxygen in the blood. However, high carbon dioxide concentrations can be unhealthy for the respiratory system.
Carbon dioxide or CO2 is a gas, which is carried by the deoxygenated blood to the lungs after the process of respiration has taken place. This gaseous waste product of metabolism is then exhaled from the body through the lungs. It is present in the blood in a number of forms, such as bicarbonate, dissolved CO2, and carbonic acid. Out of these 3 forms, 90% is constituted by bicarbonate or HCO3. The remaining 10% is in the form of either dissolved CO2 or carbonic acid (H2CO3).
The function of balancing the level of CO2 in the blood is carried out by organs, such as kidneys and lungs. However, sometimes, lesser amounts of this gas is exhaled out, leading to its increase in the blood. This condition of high carbon dioxide in blood is known as hypercapnia. In the upcoming paragraphs, you will read about the causes, symptoms, and side effects of this medical condition.
The normal level of CO2 in the blood is usually 45 mm of Hg, and if it exceeds this limit, it is considered to be high. Since CO2 is a waste product of metabolism, it has to be exhaled and removed from the body. There can be a number of factors responsible for the occurrence of hypercapnia, and all these basically involve the malfunctioning of respiratory organs.
☛ Hyperventilation is one of the major causes, in which there is no room for gaseous exchange to occur. As a result, CO2 is not exhaled, and its level increases in the blood.
☛ Another cause could be some chronic lung disease, like asthma where respiration is not continuous. Other lung diseases, which are triggered because of smoking also raise the levels of this gas due to the contamination of the blood with smoke.
☛ Pneumonia, a lung disease, can also lead to high levels of this gas by blocking the alveoli (where the exchange of oxygen and CO2 takes place).
☛ Lung cancer results in an uncontrolled growth of malignant cells, and this leads to a decrease in the level of oxygen and increase in carbon dioxide. This is a very critical condition, which needs serious medical intervention. Other problems such as pulmonary hypertension (here the blood vessels of the lungs get narrowed) lead to similar problems.
☛ Inflammation of the lungs and excess liquid in them causes ‘acute respiratory distress syndrome’. This also elevates the amount of CO2 in the blood, and the condition can be quite fatal.
☛ Hormonal diseases such as Cushing’s Syndrome and Conn’s Syndrome are triggers as well.
The below-mentioned indicants are very basic respiratory symptoms related to breathing and blood pressure.
✔ There is an increase in the blood pressure, because of the elevated pressure of gaseous exchange in the blood. This further affects the entire circulatory system and increases the pulse rate as well. Breathing problems are also observed due to the lack of efficient exchange through the lungs.
✔ Some other symptoms include headaches, flushed skin, muscle twitching, confusion due to reduced neural activity, lethargy, and fatigue. Sometimes, the systolic rate increases because of the irregular pumping of blood. All these symptoms should be very closely observed, because if they are not treated at the right time, it could prove to be fatal.
However, when one is displaying these symptoms persistently, undergo a blood test to determine the level of CO2 in the blood. Through this, it becomes easy to diagnose the illness and determine whether the symptoms are because of excess CO2 in the blood or not. Staying away from triggers, such as smoking and drinking, and making conscious efforts to practice breathing exercises plays a crucial role in helping you stay away from this medical condition.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.