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Respiratory Failure

Respiratory failure is the inability of the respiratory system to adequately supply fresh oxygen or remove carbon dioxide. Sudden respiratory failure can be the result of pneumonia, trauma, injury, drug or alcohol overdose, or inhalation of carbon monoxide, while chronic respiratory failure is commonly caused by COPD, neuromuscular disease or morbid obesity. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, bluish coloration of the lips or fingernails, lethargy and rapid heart rate. 

Treatment of respiratory failure depends on the severity of the disease, yet may include oxygen support, bronchodilators and ventilatory support within the Summa Health intensive care unit. Our Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) program also offers advanced therapy through the Summa Health cardiothoracic group. While ECMO does not treat or cure a disease, it can help when people are temporarily unable to provide their tissues with enough oxygen.


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If your situation is an emergency, call 911.