What causes hyperventilation in the early stages of status asthmaticus?

Updated: Jun 17, 2020
  • Author: Constantine K Saadeh, MD; Chief Editor: John J Oppenheimer, MD  more...
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Answer

In the early stages of acute asthma, hyperventilation may result in respiratory alkalosis. This is because obstructed lung units (slow compartment) are relatively less numerous than unobstructed lung units (fast compartment). Hyperventilation allows carbon dioxide removal via the fast compartment. However, as the disease progresses and more lung units become obstructed, an increase in the slow compartments occurs, resulting in decreased ability for carbon dioxide removal and eventually causing hypercarbia.


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