What are the causes of increased CO2 levels in blood?

Written by eliza martinez | 13/05/2017
What are the causes of increased CO2 levels in blood?
Blood tests can reveal CO2 levels. (blood sample image by Glenn Jenkinson from Fotolia.com)

High carbon dioxide, or CO2, levels in the blood, also called hypercapnia, can result in several health problems. Medical Health Tests says that too much CO2 can lead to high blood pressure, rapid pulse, muscle twitches, headaches, chest pain, confusion and fatigue. The severity of symptoms varies by individual and the amount of excess CO2 present. In cases of high CO2, medical intervention is usually necessary. High CO2 can be caused by several factors and a person at risk should contact their doctor to see if treatment is needed.


CHF Patients says that there are several medications that can contribute to elevated CO2 levels in the blood. These include diuretics, antacids, pain medication, steroids and laxatives. If a person is taking any of these medications, they should work with their doctor to monitor and maintain their CO2 levels so that if they become too high, treatment can be carried out.

Lung impairment

When the lungs are infected or injured and their function is impaired, high CO2 levels can result. According to Medical Health Tests, deficient lung function can lead to acute respiratory distress. Lung impairment can be the result of several health conditions, including swine flu, SARS, and tuberculosis. If these conditions aren't treated death can occur. Medical Health Tests says that extreme lung damage requires immediate medical care.


There are many environmental factors that can cause CO2 levels to rise. According to Medical Health Tests, smoking or being exposed to secondhand smoke can increase the risk of a person's CO2 levels going up. Pollution, as found in large cities or near large industrial areas, is also a risk factor to developing increased CO2 levels. Scuba divers are also in danger of having elevated CO2 levels. This is because they often reinhale the air they breathe out while under water.

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