NCLEX Review: Respiratory Questions Part 1 Answers and Rationale

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  1. Answer B. Albuterol may cause nervousness. The inhaled form of the drug may cause dryness and irritation of the nose and throat, not nasal congestion; insomnia, not lethargy; and hypokalemia (with high doses), not hyperkalemia. Otther adverse effects of albuterol include tremor, dizziness, headache, tachycardia, palpitations, hypertension, heartburn, nausea, vomiting and muscle cramps.
  2. Answer C. Normally, nasal drainage in acute rhinitis is clear. Yellow or green drainage indicates spread of the infection to the sinuses. Gray drainage may indicate a secondary infection.
  3. Answer D. The patient with respiratory alkalosis may complain of lightheadedness or paresthesia (numbness and tingling in the arms and legs). Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea may accompany respiratory acidosis. Hallucinations and tinnitus rare are associated with respiratory alkalosis or any other acid-base imbalance.
  4. Answer D. Ephedrine is not recommended for elderly patients, who are particularly susceptible to CNS reactions (such as confusion and anxiety) and to cardiovascular reactions (such as increased systolic blood pressure, coldness in the extremities, and anginal pain). Ephedrine is used for its bronchodilator effects with acute and chronic asthma and occasionally for its CNS stimulant actions for narcolepsy. It can be administered to children age 2 and older.
  5. Answer A. Conditions that trigger the high pressure alarm include kinking of the ventilator tubing, bronchospasm or pulmonary embolus, mucus plugging, water in the tube, coughing or biting on endotracheal tube, and the patient’s being out of breathing rhythm with the ventilator. A disconnected ventilator tube or an endotracheal cuff leak would trigger the low pressure alarm. Changing the oxygen concentration without resetting the oxygen level alarm would tigger the oxygen alarm.
  6. Answer D. Pancuronium, a nondepolarizing blocking agent, is used for muscle relaxation and paralysis. It assists mechanical ventilation by promoting encdotracheal intubation and paralyzing the patient so that the mechanical ventilator can do its work. Fighting the ventilator is a sign that the patient needs another pancuronium dose. The nurse should administer 0.01 to 0.02 mg/kg I.V. every 20 to 60 minutes. Movement of the legs, or lips has no effect on the ventilator and therefore is not used to determine the need for another dose.
  7. Answer B. In pneumothorax, the alveoli are deflated and no air exchange occurs in the lungs. Therefore, breath sounds in the affected lung field are absent. None of the other options are associated with pneumothorax. Bilateral crackles may result from pulmonary congestion, inspiratory wheezes may signal asthma, and a pleural friction rub may indicate pleural inflammation.
  8. Answer B. A lowercase “a” in an ABG value represents arterial blood. For instance, the abbreviation PaO2 refers to the partial pressure of oxygen in arterial blood. The pH value reflects the acid base balance in arterial blood. Sa02 indicates arterial oxygen saturation. An uppercase “A” represents alveolar conditions: for example, PA02 indicates the partial pressure of oxygen in the alveoli.
  9. Answer D. A patient airway and an adequate breathing pattern are the top priority for any patient, making “impaired gas exchange related to airflow obstruction” the most important nursing diagnosis. The other options also may apply to this patient but less important.
  10. Answer D. The trachea will shift according to the pressure gradients within the thoracic cavity. In tension pneumothorax and hemothorax, accumulation of air or fluid causes a shift away from the injured side. If there is no significant air or fluid accumulation, the trachea will not shift. Tracheal deviation toward the contralateral side in simple pneumothorax is seen when the thoracic contents shift in response to the release of normal thoracic pressure gradients on the injured side.
  11. Answer C. When caring for a patient who is recovering from a pneumonectomy, the nurse should encourage coughing and deep breathing to prevent pneumonia in the unaffected lung. Because the lung has been removed, the water-seal chamber should display no fluctuations. Reinflation is not the purpose of chest tube. Chest tube milking is controversial and should be done only to remove blood clots that obstruct the flow of drainage.
  12. Answer B. A patient with a laryngectomy cannot speak, yet still needs to communicate. Therefore, the nurse should plan to develop an alternative communication method. After a laryngectomy, edema interferes with the ability to swallow and necessitates tube (enteral) feedings. To prevent injury to the tracheal mucosa, the nurse should deflate the tracheostomy cuff or use the minimal leak technique. To decrease edema, the nurse should place the patient in semi-fowler’s position.
  13. Answer B. The nurse immediately should apply a dressing over the stab wound and tape it on three sides to allow air to escape and to prevent tension pneumothorax (which is more life-threatening than an open chest wound). Only after covering and taping the wound should the nurse draw blood for laboratory tests, assist with chest tube insertion, and start an I.V. line.
  14. Answer C. The patient with COPD retains carbon dioxide, which inhibits stimulation of breathing by the medullary center in the brain. As a result, low oxygen levels in the blood stimulate respiration, and administering unspecified, unmonitored amounts of oxygen may depress ventilation. To promote adequate gas exchange, the nurse should use a Venturi mask to deliver a specified, controlled amount of oxygen consistently and accurately. Drinking three glasses of fluid daily would not affect gas exchange or be sufficient to liquefy secretions, which are common in COPD. Patients with COPD and respiratory distress should be places in high-Fowler’s position and should not receive sedatives or other drugs that may further depress the respiratory center.
  15. Answer C. ARDS results from increased pulmonary capillary permeability, which leads to noncardiogenic pulmonary edema. In cardiogenic pulmonary edema, pulmonary congestion occurs secondary to heart failure. In the initial stage of ARDS, respiratory alkalosis may arise secondary to hyperventilation; however, it does not cause ARDS. Renal failure does not cause ARDS, either.
  16. Answer C. Controlled coughing helps maintain a patent airway by helping to mobilize and remove secretions. A moderate fluid intake (usually 2 L or more daily) and moderate activity help liquefy and mobilize secretions. Bed rest and sedatives may limit the patient’s ability to maintain a patent airway, causing a high risk for infection from pooled secretions.
  17. Answer A. Continuous gentle bubbling should be noted in the suction control chamber. Option b is incorrect. Chest tubes should only be clamped to check for an air leak or when changing drainage devices (according to agency policy). Option c is incorrect. Bubbling should be continuous and not intermittent. Option d is incorrect because bubbling should be gentle. Increasing the suction pressure only increases the rate of evaporation of water in the drainage system.
  18. Answer B. The presence of fluctuation of the fluid level in the water seal chamber indicates a patent drainage system. With normal breathing, the water level rises with inspiration and falls with expiration. Fluctuation stops if the tube is obstructed, if a dependent loop exists, if the suction is not working properly, or if the lung has reexpanded. Options A, C, and D are incorrect.
  19. Answer B. If the chest drainage system is disconnected, the end of the tube is placed in a bottle of sterile water held below the level of the chest. The system is replaced if it breaks or cracks or if the collection chamber is full. Placing a sterile dressing over the disconnection site will not prevent complications resulting from the disconnection. The physician may need to be notified, but this is not the initial action.
  20. Answer D. When the chest tube is removed, the client is asked to perform the Valsalva maneuver (take a deep breath, exhale, and bear down). The tube is quickly withdrawn, and an airtight dressing is taped in place. An alternative instruction is to ask the client to take a deep breath and hold the breath while the tube is removed. Options A, B, and C are incorrect client instructions.
  21. Answer B. If the tube is dislodged accidentally, the initial nursing action is to grasp the retention sutures and spread the opening. If agency policy permits, the nurse then attempts immediately to replace the tube. Covering the tracheostomy site will block the airway. Options A and C will delay treatment in this emergency situation.
  22. Answer A. The nurse reports stridor to the physician immediately. This is a high-pitched, coarse sound that is heard with the stethoscope over the trachea. Stridor indicates airway edema and places the client at risk for airway obstruction. Options B, C, and D are not signs that require immediate notification of the physician.
  23. Answer B. This client has sustained a blunt or a closed chest injury. Basic symptoms of a closed pneumothorax are shortness of breath and chest pain. A larger pneumothorax may cause tachypnea, cyanosis, diminished breath sounds, and subcutaneous emphysema. Hyperresonance also may occur on the affected side. A sucking sound at the site of injury would be noted with an open chest injury.
  24. Answer B. Clinical manifestations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) include hypoxemia, hypercapnia, dyspnea on exertion and at rest, oxygen desaturation with exercise, and the use of accessory muscles of respiration. Chest x-rays reveal a hyperinflated chest and a flattened diaphragm if the disease is advanced.
  25. Answer B. The Venturi mask delivers the most accurate oxygen concentration. It is the best oxygen delivery system for the client with chronic airflow limitation because it delivers a precise oxygen concentration. The face tent, aerosol mask, and tracheostomy collar are also high-flow oxygen delivery systems but most often are used to administer high humidity.
  26. Answer D. One of the first pulmonary symptoms is a slight cough with the expectoration of mucoid sputum. Options A, B, and C are late symptoms and signify cavitation and extensive lung involvement.
  27. Answer B. Tuberculosis is definitively diagnosed through culture and isolation of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. A presumptive diagnosis is made based on a tuberculin skin test, a sputum smear that is positive for acid-fast bacteria, a chest x-ray, and histological evidence of granulomatous disease on biopsy.
  28. Answer B. Oxygen is used cautiously and should not exceed 2 L/min. Because of the long-standing hypercapnia that occurs in emphysema, the respiratory drive is triggered by low oxygen levels rather than increased carbon dioxide levels, as is the case in a normal respiratory system.
  29. Answer D. Pursed-lip breathing facilitates maximal expiration for clients with obstructive lung disease. This type of breathing allows better expiration by increasing airway pressure that keeps air passages open during exhalation. Options A, B, and C are not the purposes of this type of breathing.
  30. Answer B. The earliest clinical sign of acute respiratory distress syndrome is an increased respiratory rate. Breathing becomes labored, and the client may exhibit air hunger, retractions, and cyanosis. Arterial blood gas analysis reveals increasing hypoxemia, with a PaO2 lower than 60 mm Hg.

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