A few years ago I worked at the nurses station in the intensive care unit at a burn center. I remember monitoring the patients breathing from a remote capnometer and it was then that I learned how important the end tidal CO2 measurements are.
In a person with healthy lungs that are breathing under normal circumstances their dioxide level should range between four point five to five percent of the air being exhaled.
If the end tidal CO2 is below four percent then the person could fall into a condition called hypocapnia which is low carbon dioxide. This could lead to dizziness, black outs or brain cell damage.
If the end tidal CO2 is above the five percent then it leads to a condition called hypercapnia which obviously is high levels of carbon dioxide which could ultimately lead to respiratory failure.
Luckily I have not experienced either one of these conditions so far in my nursing career but I do understand and appreciate the importance of the capnometer instrument.