How are hypoventilation syndromes treated?

Updated: Jul 22, 2021
  • Author: Jazeela Fayyaz, DO; Chief Editor: Guy W Soo Hoo, MD, MPH  more...
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The treatment of hypoventilation primarily is directed at correcting the underlying disorder. Use caution when correcting chronic hypercapnia. Rapid correction of the hypercapnia can alkalinize the cerebrospinal fluid, which may cause seizures, and can induce a metabolic alkalosis, placing the patient at risk for cardiac dysrhythmias. Infusion of sodium HCO3 is not indicated for chronic hypoventilation syndromes.

Bronchodilators, such as beta agonists (eg, albuterol, salmeterol), anticholinergic agents (eg, ipratropium bromide), and methylxanthines (eg, theophylline), are helpful in treating patients with obstructive lung disease and severe bronchospasm. Additionally, theophylline may improve diaphragm muscle contractility and stimulate the respiratory center.

Drugs aimed at reversing the effects of certain sedative drugs may be helpful in the event of an overdose. Naloxone (Narcan) may be used to reverse the effects of narcotics, and flumazenil (Romazicon) may be used to reverse the effects of benzodiazepines.

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