What Causes Kussmaul Respirations In Dka?

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Kussmaul Breathing Pattern - Description And Causes

This type of breathing pattern was first described by Adolph Kussmaul, a german physician in 1874. He noticed that his patients with diabetic ketoacidosis had a pattern of breathing which he first labelled as having "air hunger". In the Kussmaul type of breathing, the patient is breathing heavily i.e hyperventilating along with tachypnea. So we will find that the amplitude of the breaths along with the rate will be increased. There is usually no pauses between the breaths. This is not specific for diabetic ketoacidosis. It can also appear in other types of severe metabolic acidoses e.g alcoholic ketoacidosis . Continue reading >>

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Popular Questions

  1. SVL

    So I understand this to be deep rapid respirations, as part of the signs of DKA. It's a result of the acidosis, and a need for air... so the body rapidly tries to expel CO2.
    So... how on earth do you treat the respirations? I do understand you would need to treat the acidosis, but the question on my study guide says to know how to treat Kussmaul's Respirations.
    A class mate told me with a brown paper bag? That doesn't seem complicated enough to me, and I can't find anything in my book about it.

  2. Guest

    You have to treat the acidosis first and if that doesn't correct it--Intubation. I don't know Sarah usually when they get to that point they are on their way out.

  3. BlueRidge

    Your classmate is confusing Kussmaul's with hyperventalation, which is caused by breathing too deeply and/or quickly. Hyperventalating leads to the UNINTEDED loss of of too MUCH CO2, leading to dizziness and tingling of extremities. That treatment IS the brown paper bag or breathing into cupped hands to rebreath in more CO2. This occurs with overexcitment or during labor with controlled breathing patterns (like Lamaze).
    As you said, Kussmaul's is an attempt to reverse metabolic acidosis by blowing off Bicarb as a compensatory effort. These are spontaneous and under autonamic control, so you can NOT "treat the respirations" any more than you can help a patient "control" full blown labor contractions or autonamic dysreflexia in a pt with spinal cord injury.
    So, as TNN said, the treatment is to control the underlying metabolic issue with meds, fluids, mechanical oxygenation if needed. Th pH has to brought up to a level compatable with human life.

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