Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome

What is acute respiratory distress syndrome?

Alveoli are the tiny air sacs in the lungs. Fluid build up in these elastic air sacs causes the condition called acute respiratory syndrome. This will block oxygen flow to the bloodstream. As a result, the organs experiences lack of oxygen that they require to function. People with critical illness or severe injuries are more prone to develop ARDS.

What are the symptoms of ARDS?

Shortness of breath is the main symptom of this condition. The signs and symptoms can vary according to the cause and severity of the condition. Some of the common signs and symptoms may include:

  • Low blood pressure

  • Severe shortness of breath

  • Tiredness

  • Rapid breathing

What are the causes of ARDS?

Fluid build up in the alveoli is the scientific cause of the condition. Other underlying causes of the condition may include:

  • Severe pneumonia

  • Major injury to the chest or head

  • Sepsis

  • Inhalation of harmful substances

How ARDS is diagnosed?

There are no particular tests to diagnose the condition. Based on the physical exam, the doctor may suggest chest x-ray and oxygen level test. Other tests may also be recommended to rule out other condition which may produce the similar symptoms ARDS. Some of the tests include:

  • Imaging tests like X-ray and CT

  • Lab tests

  • Heart tests like echocardiogram and electrocardiogram

What are the treatment options for ARDS?

The main goal of the treatment is to improve the oxygen level in the blood. It will help the organs of the body function properly. For this, the doctor may use any of the following methods:

  • Mechanical ventilation

  • Supplemental oxygen

Managing the amount of intravenous fluid is also important. It is necessary to control too much of or too less liquid build up in the lungs. Medications are also recommended to ARDS patients aiming at the following:

  • Preventing the infection

  • Treating the infection

  • Relieving the pain and discomforts

  • Minimizing the gastric reflux