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Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome

What is Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome?

Acute respiratory distress syndrome is a life-threatening condition in which inflammation of the lungs and accumulation of fluid in the air sacs leads to low blood oxygen levels.When acute respiratory distress syndrome occurs, blood and fluid leak into the spaces between the air sacs, and eventually into the air sacs themselves, causing major breathing difficulties. Acute respiratory distress syndrome is a medical emergency. If you have symptoms of acute respiratory distress syndrome, you should seek medical care immediately. Acute respiratory distress syndrome is also called ARDS.

What Causes Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome?

Acute respiratory distress syndrome can be caused by any disease that directly or indirectly injures the lungs. Some common causes of acute respiratory distress syndrome are:

  • pneumonia
  • septic shock
  • trauma
  • aspiration of vomit
  • chemical inhalation

Symptoms of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome

Some common symptoms of acute respiratory distress syndrome are:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Labored, rapid breathing
  • Low blood pressure
  • Shock
  • Blue skin, lips and nails

Acute respiratory distress syndrome is a medical emergency. If you have symptoms of acute respiratory distress syndrome, you should seek medical care immediately.

How is Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome Diagnosed?

Acute respiratory distress syndrome can be diagnosed via the following procedures:

  • Chest X-ray
  • Arterial blood gas
  • CBC and blood chemistries
  • Evaluation for possible infections
  • Cultures and analysis of sputum specimens

Can Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome be Treated? 

Yes. The objective of treatment is to provide enough support for the failing respiratory system until these systems have time to heal. Treatment of the underlying condition that caused ARDS is essential.

Complications of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome

Some complication of acute respiratory distress syndrome are:

  • Multiple organ system failure
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Ventilator-associated pneumonia
  • Damage to the lungs from the high ventilator settings required to treat the disease, such as pneumothorax

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