Abnormally Slow Breathing Bradipnea Facts – Bradipnea is a condition in which a person’s breathing process drops dramatically and slows down, resulting in abnormal breathing.
Bradyipnea is the medical term for abnormally slow breathing. According to experts, the normal respiratory rate for adults in breaths per minute is between 12 and 20.
However if a person has a respiratory rate below 12 per minute for more than two minutes then this indicates bradipnea which can cause dizziness as well as fatigue.
Reported by Medical News Today, bradipnea can occur when a person is awake or sleeping. This differs from apnea, which is the most common temporary cessation of breathing while a person is sleeping.
Also, bradipnea is not the same as dyspnea, which is the medical term for shortness of breath. Summarized from various sources, here are a series of medical facts about bradipnea that you need to know.
1. What causes it?
Bradyipnea is a symptom, not a condition in itself. This can signal a physical problem or underlying health condition, or it may indicate over-medication.
Drug or poison exposure: Various drugs, including alcohol as well as opioids, can cause a very slow respiratory rate. Bradipnea is a symptom of a drug overdose. In addition, exposure to toxic industrial chemicals or dangerous levels of carbon monoxide can also slow a person’s breathing rate.
Surgery: Various drugs that doctors use during surgery can also cause bradipnea, which includes muscle relaxants, anesthesia, and postoperative pain treatment.
Hormonal imbalance: A person who has a condition called hypothyroidism has an underactive thyroid gland, which may not produce enough hormones to keep the body’s metabolism at optimal levels. As a result of this, a slower respiratory rate can develop.
Problems with the brain stem: The process of breathing starts in the brain. The respiratory centers in the lower brainstem as well as the spinal cord transmit signals that stimulate the lungs, respiratory muscles, as well as the rest of the body. Problems with the brain, such as blood clots, tumors, and brain injury, can interfere with the brain’s ability to transmit these signals. This disturbance can slow down the respiratory rate.
Problems with the liver: Due to the relationship between heart rhythm and respiratory rate, anything that interferes with heart function such as heart failure or heart infection can also affect the activity of the respiratory system.
Electrolyte imbalance: Minerals with an electric charge, called electrolytes, play a role in maintaining the balance of the body’s systems. Elecrolytes include potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium, phosphate and chloride.
2. What are the symptoms?
Slow breathing can cause oxygen levels in the body to be low. The most prominent symptoms of bradipnea are similar to those of a lack of oxygen. Reported by Medical News Today, the symptoms of bradipnea include:
- Feeling weak
- Chronic fatigue
- Poor coordination
- Chest pain
- Memory problems
3. What complications can it cause?
Blood oxygenation occurs mainly during breathing, so that when breathing decreases, the blood oxygenation level will also decrease and cause various complications.
Hypoxemia: A condition in which there is a deficiency in the delivery of oxygen in the blood.
Respiratory acidosis: A condition characterized by disproportionate levels of acid-base balance, leading to alveolar hypoventilation.
Hypercapnia: A condition in which there is an increase in the amount of carbon dioxide in the blood.
The above conditions can lead to increased episodes of fainting and heart problems. A compromised respiratory system, associated with bradipnea, can be life threatening and can potentially cause damage to other organs and tissues.