Co2 and oxygen flow
Why does my body retain more CO2 when I increase the oxygen flow from my oxygen concentrator?
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is one of the organism’s waste products. CO2 blood levels reflect ventilation (gas exchange performed by the lungs). The brain orders the respiratory muscles to perform ventilation, and most of the time this occurs in an involuntary, automatic manner. Three kinds of signals alert the brain that ventilation is needed: a decrease in blood oxygen (O2), an increase in blood CO2 and an increase in blood acidity.
For some who suffer from chronic respiratory insufficiency, the brain may become less sensitive to the signal provided by increased CO2 levels; ventilation is therefore not increased. These people generally have to rely on a decrease of blood O2 to signal the brain that ventilation is needed. When increased oxygen flow from a concentrator causes too great an increase in O2, the brain loses its main signal for triggering ventilation. As a result, CO2 levels rise, causing headaches, drowsiness and even confusion. In these cases, low O2 levels should not be corrected too aggressively: blood oxygen levels should be slightly lower than the norm. You should be aware that there may be other reasons for increased CO2 levels, especially when respiratory muscles are exhausted.