Hypercapnea is having very high level of carbon dioxide in the blood. This can happen as a result of one of the following. First, the could be a reason that the person is able to breathe well and enter enough amounts of oxygen into their respiratory system. However, for some reason, carbon dioxide is getting trapped in the alveoli and gas exchange isn’t successful or at least not a sufficient amount of carbon dioxide is being emitted. Second, it could be due to re breathing emitted carbon dioxide from a paper bag in some cases of panic attacks or anxiety.

In both cases, carbon dioxide levels will raise dramitically in the blood causing hypercapnea. carbon dioxide will react with water to form carbonic acid, which lowers the blood pH A LOT. This disturbs the homeostasis of the body and affects all vital functions. It also affects the mental status of the person sometimes causing unconsciousness, dizziness, or disorientation. Also, our body normally monitors the rate and effort of respiration by the respiratory and cardiovascular centers in the brain stem and the sympathetic nervous system according the “Hyperbaric drive” rather that the “hypoxic drive”. Hyperbaric is another term for “high carbon dioxide concentrations”, while “hyp-” means low and “-oxic” refers to oxygen levels. So, when the body detects very high amounts of carbon dioxide, this means that still very low amounts of oxygen are present. In this case, what the body does to adapt and increase the oxygen intake is hyper ventilation. This kind of respiration is inadequate as it does not allow enough time for oxygen to fill the lungs or carbon dioxide to get emitted out of the body, which will increase hypercapnea and will definately make the patient go unconscious .