What are the risks of oxygen therapy for respiratory failure?

Updated: Apr 07, 2020
  • Author: Ata Murat Kaynar, MD; Chief Editor: Michael R Pinsky, MD, CM, Dr(HC), FCCP, FAPS, MCCM  more...
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The risks of oxygen therapy are oxygen toxicity and carbon dioxide narcosis. Pulmonary oxygen toxicity rarely occurs when a fractional concentration of oxygen in inspired gas (FiO2) lower than 0.6 is used; therefore, an attempt to lower the inspired oxygen concentration to this level should be made in critically ill patients.

Carbon dioxide narcosis occasionally occurs when some patients with hypercapnia are given oxygen to breathe. Arterial carbon dioxide tension (PaCO2) increases sharply and progressively with severe respiratory acidosis, somnolence, and coma. The mechanism is primarily the reversal of pulmonary vasoconstriction and the increase in dead space ventilation.

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