Your body needs a steady flow of oxygen-rich blood to keep vital organs functioning and tissues healthy. Acute respiratory failure (ARF) is a medical emergency where your lungs cannot exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen in your blood effectively. This can cause low levels of oxygen and high levels of carbon dioxide in the blood.
Our committed doctors at Dignity Health provide complete emergency treatment for ARF in Arizona. If you are having trouble breathing, use our online waiting service, InQuicker™, to select an estimated arrival time to your nearest Dignity Health emergency room, where you can receive personalized care.
Symptoms of Acute Respiratory Failure (ARF)
The signs and symptoms of ARF vary, depending upon whether the problem is too little oxygen or too much carbon dioxide in the blood.
Symptoms of too little oxygen are:
- Feeling as if you cannot get a good breath
- Gasping for air
- Bluish coloration of the skin around the lips or in the nailbeds
Symptoms of too much carbon dioxide are hyperventilation (b)reathing very fast and mental confusion.
Because ARF often results from an underlying medical condition such as pneumonia, you may also experience signs and symptoms specific to the cause of your ARF.
Causes of ARF
ARF generally develops as a result of another underlying medical condition or an injury to the lungs. The most common causes of ARF are:
- Aspiration (i)nhalation of vomit or water into the lungs
- Chest trauma such as a blow to the ribs
- Lung diseases, including pneumonia, COPD (c)hronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, and cystic fibrosis
- Inhaling toxic smoke or fumes
- Drug or alcohol overdose
- Pulmonary embolism
Treatment & Prevention of ARF at Dignity Health
Treatment and prevention of ARF involves addressing the initial emergency and then using various strategies to avoid the underlying cause in the future.
Emergency treatment for ARF includes receiving oxygen through a facemask or ventilator. Our doctors also use various tests to diagnose and treat the underlying cause.
You can help prevent an episode of ARF by properly treating underlying conditions such as COPD or by avoiding underlying conditions such as pneumonia. Limit exposure to smoke or toxic fumes or wear an approved respirator when working around these substances.
Consider making these lifestyle choices to help prevent an episode of ARF:
- Wear a seatbelt to protect your chest from trauma should you get into a car accident.
- Don’t use illicit drugs.
- Limit the amount of alcohol you drink.
Prompt treatment of ARF may save your life.
If you suddenly experience difficulty breathing, call 9-1-1. Dignity Health provides high-quality emergency services, including treatment for acute respiratory failure (ARF), in Arizona.