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Hypoventilation is breathing that is too shallow or too slow to meet the needs of the body.

If a person hypoventilates, the body's carbon dioxide level rises. This causes a buildup of acid and too little oxygen in the blood.


A person with hypoventilation might feel sleepy.


Wagner PD, Powell FL, West JB. Ventilation, blood flow, and gas exchange. In: Mason RJ, Broaddus VC, Martin TR, et al, eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2010:chap 4.

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  • Last reviewed on 2/2/2015
  • Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, MHS, Paul F. Harron Jr. Associate Professor of Medicine, Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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