Oxygen-induced hypercapnia in COPD: myths and facts

Crit Care. 2012 Oct 29;16(5):323. doi: 10.1186/cc11475.


During our medical training, we learned that oxygen administration in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) induces hypercapnia through the 'hypoxic drive' mechanism and can be dangerous. This mindset frequently results in the reluctance of clinicians to administer oxygen to hypoxemic patients with COPD. However, this fear is not based on evidence in the literature. Here, we will review the impact and pathophysiology of oxygen-induced hypercapnia in patients with acute exacerbation of COPD and recommend a titrated oxygen management.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Hypercapnia / chemically induced*
  • Hypercapnia / physiopathology
  • Oxygen / administration & dosage*
  • Oxygen / adverse effects
  • Oxygen Inhalation Therapy / adverse effects
  • Oxygen Inhalation Therapy / methods*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / therapy*


  • Oxygen