Chronic respiratory acidosis is caused by a primary disease process that affects the lungs or respiratory system, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, cystic fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension, and neuromuscular disorders. It can also be caused by high altitude, obesity, and drug or alcohol abuse.
Diagnosis of chronic respiratory acidosis is based on a medical history, physical exam, and laboratory tests. Pulmonary function tests are used to measure the amount of air moving in and out of the lungs. Blood gas tests measure the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood.
Differential diagnosis of chronic respiratory acidosis includes other respiratory disorders, such as asthma, COPD, and pulmonary hypertension, as well as metabolic disorders, such as diabetes and kidney failure.
Treatment of chronic respiratory acidosis depends on the underlying cause. Treatment may include medications, such as bronchodilators and steroids, to improve lung function, as well as supplemental oxygen and breathing exercises. In some cases, surgery may be necessary.
The prognosis of chronic respiratory acidosis depends on the underlying cause and may range from good to poor. The prognosis is generally better for those with less severe disease.