What Do High CO2 Levels In Blood Indicate

high CO2 levels in blood
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Carbon dioxide is the metabolic byproduct formed in the cells or tissues. It is a waste product, which needs to be removed from the body. The removal of CO2 takes place through the lungs. During exhalation, it is released from the body to the environment.

The breathing process is essential for living beings. In that process, CO2 is transported to the lungs from different parts of the body. From there it dissolves into the blood. The accumulation of CO2 in the blood is not good for health.

The high CO2 levels in the blood are considered to be poisonous. Hence, its elimination is very important. If you don’t know why it is poisonous to us, Then keep reading.

This article covers detailed information about ‘High CO2 Levels In Blood.’ You will not only know about the consequences of high CO2 levels in the blood but also its treatments.

So, read it to get all the information on high CO2 levels in the blood.

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Carbon Dioxide In Blood

There is no need to tell you that CO2 is transported from cells to lungs through blood during the respiration process. CO2 travels through blood either in a dissolved state or in the binding state with hemoglobin.

Carbon dioxide has a significant role in regulating blood pH and electrolytes. It is also responsible for the binding of oxygen with hemoglobin molecules. All this can happen when the normal level of CO2 is maintained in the blood.

If the level of CO2 exceeds the normal level it leads to health complications. Let’s see what will happen due to the high CO2 levels in the blood.

High CO2 Levels in Blood or Hypercapnia

Hypercapnia develops when the body is unable to remove carbon dioxide from the body. It causes an imbalance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your bloodstream. It affects your breathing process.

When not enough carbon dioxide is released through the lungs, it gets accumulated in your blood. The accumulation is not good for your lung health and respiratory system.

High carbon dioxide content in blood results in the development of other lung disorders.

Causes of High CO2 Levels in Blood

There might be various reasons for the increase in CO2 levels in the blood. The most common one is a low rate of exhalation of carbon dioxide. Even some chronic lung diseases are also responsible for this.

Muscular disorders, neurological diseases, or any brain damage problem also leads to an increase in blood CO2 levels.

It is quite clear that blood carries carbon dioxide, which is produced during cellular respiration or the metabolic function of the body. During these processes, you exhale carbon dioxide, but somehow you don’t exhale enough CO2, it starts accumulating in the body.

This ultimately leads to developing hypercapnia, high carbon dioxide in the blood.

Sometimes, there are some genetic reasons for the development of hypercapnia. A protein called alpha-1-antitrypsin is essential for a healthy lung. When the amount of this protein decreases from the normal level it results in high CO2 levels in the blood.

Let’s see what other factors cause hypercapnia.

Reasons for Excessive CO2 Production

Symptoms of High CO2 Levels in Blood

The symptoms depend on the level of severity of hypercapnia. Hence, you can observe variations in the signs of hypercapnia from mild to severe symptoms.

Based on symptoms, hypercapnia is of two types – Mild Hypercapnia and Severe Hypercapnia.

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Mild Symptoms

Mild symptoms can be corrected by using certain medicines. And some breathing exercises can help to overcome these symptoms quickly.

  • Short breathing
  • Loosening focus
  • Mild headache
  • Flushed skin
  • Sleepiness
  • Fatigue
  • Rapid breathing

These symptoms mark the beginning phase of hypercapnia. When these symptoms persist for a long time, then the risk of severe hypercapnia will be high.

In the case of mild hypercapnia, it will be easy for the body to balance carbon dioxide levels, which is not possible in severe cases.

But these symptoms are quite common and people can’t imagine that they are due to high CO2 levels in blood.

Severe Symptoms

These are noticeable symptoms but can’t be corrected quickly just like mild ones. In this situation, you have to take certain medications and doctors’ assistance to balance too much carbon dioxide in the body.

You have to give attention to these symptoms. Never ignore the above-mentioned symptoms otherwise it will lead to long-term complications.

For diagnosis, blood test measures play a significant role. So, go for the CO2 blood test to get clarity on whether these symptoms are of severe hypercapnia.

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Diagnosis of High CO2 Levels in Blood

Untreated hypercapnia gives rise to other complications. To avoid them, it is necessary to diagnose hypercapnia at an early stage. The early detection of the underlying cause will be helpful not only for its treatment but also to reduce the risk of other lung diseases.

There are various diagnostic tests through which hypercapnia or high CO2 levels in the blood can be examined.

1. Blood Tests

There are different kinds of blood tests available to measure oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the blood.

• Carbon Dioxide Blood Test

This test is used to measure how much CO2 is present in the blood sample. It examines the level of bicarbonates.

• Bicarbonate Blood Test

The bicarbonate test measures the number of bicarbonates in the blood. This test helps to detect electrolyte imbalances.

It detects the carbon dioxide content which goes high during hypercapnia.

• Arterial Blood Gas Test

This blood test is different as the blood sample is taken from arteries for this test. It measures the blood oxygen level, carbon dioxide level, pH, and bicarbonates.

2. Imaging Test

X-rays and CT scans of the chest will be helpful to detect pulmonary conditions like emphysema or damaged tissue of the lung.

An imaging test of the brain, MRI is done when the healthcare provider thinks, the causes are related to the brain.

3. Pulmonary Functions Test

This test measures lung capacity, gas exchange, and lung volume, which are directly related to respiratory function and lung function.

Through these tests, your healthcare provider will confirm the reason for the development of your symptoms.

Ways To Reduce High CO2 Levels in Blood

There are different methods used by healthcare professionals to treat hypercapnia.

1. Use of Medications

Certain medicines can help you with your breathing problems.

2. Proper Ventilation

Ventilation is a widely used method for the treatment of hypercapnia. Through ventilation, doctors will make sure that you breathe properly.

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• Mechanical Ventilation

A tube is inserted into the mouth through which the breathing is going on.

• Non-invasive Ventilation

It can be used in the case of difficulty in breathing. A mouthpiece or nasal mask is used through which continuous breathing takes place.

3. Oxygen Therapy

It is a kind of moveable breathing assistance. In this, you can carry a device on your back that provides oxygen. Through this device, oxygen enters your nose.

4. Surgery

It can only be used when air sacs or lungs get damaged severely. Surgeries will be done to remove damaged tissues from the lung. The most common surgery for this is lung volume reduction surgery.

Diseases Associated With High CO2 Levels in Blood

The high CO2 levels in the blood develop hypercapnia, which causes other lung diseases. People suffering from hypercapnia face the issues of trouble breathing and declining lung function.

• Respiratory Acidosis

This condition arises due to an increased level of carbon dioxide in the blood. Due to the higher concentration of CO2, the pH value of blood decreases. As a result, the nature of blood becomes acidic in that case.

The normal range of blood pH is around 7.3 to 7.5. Any fall in pH from 7.3, leads to respiratory acidosis.

You will experience:

  • Breathlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Blurred vision
  • Restlessness

In severe cases,

  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Coma

The best way to treat this respiratory failure is to consult a doctor. Through proper medication, it can be cured.

• Carbon Dioxide Narcosis

The increased level of carbon dioxide in the blood causes an unconsciousness or a depressed state.

In this condition, people are completely out of conscious level. It turns out to be fatal, if not treated on time.

Hence, it is very important to diagnose it quickly and then begin with its treatment.

• Metabolic Acidosis

Usually, your body fluids have acids that are produced through various metabolic processes. But metabolic acidosis arises when the body doesn’t eliminate enough acids from the body fluid due to kidney failure.

It ultimately results in heavy breathing and high CO2 levels in the blood.

• Neuromuscular Disorder

Hypercapnia is also associated with muscular and neuromuscular disorders. Through research, it has been observed that high CO2 levels in blood cause changes in the metabolic activities of muscles.

This happens because of the activation of certain signaling pathways by the raised level of carbon dioxide or hypercapnia. The activated pathways negatively affect the muscle fibers and innate immune system.

• Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

It is also linked with hypercapnia or high CO2 levels in the blood. It is a chronic inflammatory lung disease. The air passage becomes narrow as a result, the respiratory system doesn’t work properly to balance carbon dioxide levels.

People with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) experience shortness of breath.

It gives rise to a condition called Emphysema, in which the air gets trapped and the level of CO2 increases. COPD progresses with time and causes breathing difficulty or even death.

Final Note

So, now you will know what high CO2 levels in the blood indicate. This whole information is going to be beneficial for you to eliminate the health problem related to high co2 levels in the blood.

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