Periods of hyperpnea alternate with periods of apnea (cessation of breathing). Overly brief inspection will miss this important sign. Stay alert tot he patient’s breathing pattern over several minutes.
Occurs when medullary respiratory center loses its usual fine sensitivity to fluctuations in pCO2 or to afferent stimuli.
Association with brain tumor, cardiac disease, chronic nephritis, meningitis, pneumonia, or disease accompanied by profound intoxication. Through a sign of grave prognostic import, it does not always signify a fatal termination.
Bates, Barbara. 1974. A Guide to Physical Examination. J.B. Lippincott Company, Toronto.