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Respiratory Exam

Patterns of Breathing

July 1st, 2020


Watch the patient's pattern of breathing, taking into account the rate, regularity and depth of respiration. Specific patterns of breathing may suggest an underlying pathology.

Cheyne-Stokes Respiration

  • Look For

  • Periods of hyperventilation interspersed with periods of apnoea or bradypnoea.
  • Significance

  • Cheyne-Stokes respiration occurs when hyperventilation lowers the arterial CO₂ below the apnoeic threshold.
  • Causes of Cheyne-Stokes Respiration

  • Physiological - at high altitudes
  • Obstructive sleep apnoea
  • Congestive cardiac failure
  • CNS - stroke, traumatic brain injury, tumour

Kussmaul Respiration

Kussmaul breathing is a deep, rapid, laboured type of breathing that is associated with severe metabolic acidosis - especially diabetic ketoacidosis.
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