VIII Glossary

Open Resources for Nursing (Open RN)

Apnea: Temporary cessation of breathing. When apnea occurs during sleep, it is often caused by the condition called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). (Chapter 8.2)

Arterial Blood Gas (ABG): Diagnostic test performed on an arterial sample of blood to determine its pH level, oxygenation status, and carbon dioxide status. (Chapter 8.2)

Barrel chest: An increased anterior-posterior chest diameter, resulting from air trapping in the alveoli, that can occur in chronic respiratory diseases like COPD. (Chapter 8.3)

Bradypnea: Decreased respiratory rate less than the normal range according to the patient’s age. (Chapter 8.3)

Cardiac output: The amount of blood the heart pumps in one minute. (Chapter 8.2)

Clubbing: Enlargement of the fingertips that occurs with chronic hypoxia. (Chapter 8.3)

Coughing and deep breathing: A breathing technique where the patient is encouraged to take deep, slow breaths and then exhale slowly. After each set of breaths, the patient should cough. This technique is repeated 3 to 5 times every hour. (Chapter 8.2)

Cyanosis: Bluish discoloration of the skin and mucous membranes. (Chapter 8.2)

Dyspnea: A subjective feeling of not getting enough air. Depending on severity, dyspnea causes increased levels of anxiety. (Chapter 8.2)

Endotracheal Tube (ET tube): An ET tube is inserted by an advanced practitioner to maintain a secure airway when a patient is experiencing respiratory failure or is receiving general anesthesia. For more information, see the “Oxygenation Equipment” section of the “Oxygen Therapy” chapter in Open RN Nursing Skill, 2e. (Chapter 8.2)

Gas exchange: Refers to the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the alveoli and the pulmonary capillaries; also called respiration. (Chapter 8.2)

HCO3-: Bicarbonate level of arterial blood indicated in an arterial blood gas (ABG) result. Normal range is 22-26. (Chapter 8.2)

Huffing technique: A technique helpful for patients who have difficulty coughing. Teach the patient to inhale with a medium-sized breath and then make a sound like “ha” to push the air out quickly with the mouth slightly open. (Chapter 8.2)

Hypercapnia: Elevated level of carbon dioxide in the blood. (Chapter 8.2)

Hypoxemia: A specific type of hypoxia that is defined as decreased partial pressure of oxygen in the blood (PaO2) indicated in an arterial blood gas (ABG) result. (Chapter 8.2)

Hypoxia: A reduced level of tissue oxygenation. Hypoxia has many causes, ranging from respiratory and cardiac conditions to anemia. (Chapter 8.2)

Incentive spirometer: A medical device commonly prescribed after surgery to reduce the buildup of fluid in the lungs and to prevent pneumonia. While sitting upright, the patient should breathe in slowly and deeply through the tubing with the goal of raising the piston to a specified level. The patient should attempt to hold their breath for five seconds, or as long as tolerated, and then rest for a few seconds. This technique should be repeated by the patient ten times every hour while awake. (Chapter 8.2)

Orthopnea: Difficulty in breathing that occurs when lying down and is relieved upon changing to an upright position. (Chapter 8.e)

PaCO2: Partial pressure of carbon dioxide level in arterial blood indicated in an ABG result. Normal range is 35-45 mmHg. (Chapter 8.2)

PaO2: Partial pressure of dissolved oxygen in arterial blood indicated in an ABG result. Normal range is 80-100 mmHg. (Chapter 8.2)

Perfusion: The passage of blood through the arteries to an organ or tissue. (Chapter 8.2)

pH level: A measurement of acidity or alkalinity of the blood in an ABG result. The normal range of pH level for arterial blood is 7.35-7.45. A pH level below 7.35 is considered acidic, causing a condition called acidosis, and a pH level above 7.45 is considered alkaline, causing a condition known as alkalosis. (Chapter 8.2)

Pursed-lip breathing: A breathing technique that encourages a person to inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth at a slow, controlled flow. (Chapter 8.2)

Purulent sputum: Yellow, green, or brown sputum that often indicates a respiratory infection. (Chapter 8.3)

Respiration: Gas exchange occurring at the alveolar level where blood is oxygenated. and carbon dioxide is removed. (Chapter 8.2)

SaO2: Calculated oxygen saturation level in an ABG result. Normal range is 95-100%. (Chapter 8.2)

Saturation of peripheral oxygen (SpO2): Hemoglobin saturation level measured by pulse oximetry. Normal range is 94-98%. (Chapter 8.2)

Sputum: Mucus and other secretions that are coughed up and expelled from the mouth. (Chapter 8.3)

Tachypnea: Elevated respiratory rate above normal range according to the patient’s age. (Chapter 8.3)

Tripod position: A position that enhances air exchange when a patient sits up and leans over by resting their arms on their legs or on a bedside table; also referred to as a three-point position. (Chapter 8.2)

Ventilation: Mechanical movement of air into and out of the lungs. (Chapter 8.2)

Vibratory Positive Expiratory Pressure (PEP) Therapy: Handheld devices such as flutter valves or Acapella devices used with patients who need assistance in clearing mucus from their airways. (Chapter 8.2)


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