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Chronic Respiratory Failure

Chronic respiratory failure (CRF) is a long-term condition that happens when your lungs cannot get enough oxygen into your blood. Your heart, brain, and other organs depend on the oxygen in your blood to work properly. CRF can also happen when your lungs cannot get the carbon dioxide out of your blood. A buildup of carbon dioxide in your blood can cause damage to your organs. The decrease in oxygen and the buildup of carbon dioxide can happen at the same time. CRF may develop over a period of days to years.


  • Shortness of breath
  • The sensation that you can't breathe in enough air
  • A bluish tint to the skin, lips, and fingernails (reflecting low oxygen levels

Respiratory failure is frequently a medical emergency. Call 911 or seek medical attention right away if you think you’re experiencing respiratory failure.