Acute respiratory distress syndrome is also known as adult respiratory distress syndrome. It is a type of lung failure that can occur when large amounts of fluid accumulate in the lungs. Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a medical emergency that often occurs in people who have severe lung disease.

However, even people who previously had normal lungs can develop ARDS. This syndrome is sometimes called adult respiratory distress syndrome, although it can occur in children . Acute respiratory distress syndrome is a type of severe, acute lung dysfunction affecting all or most of both lungs that occurs as a result of illness or injury.

Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Although it is sometimes called adult respiratory distress syndrome, it may also affect children. Major symptoms may include breathing difficulties (dyspnea), rapid breathing (tachypnea), excessively deep and rapid breathing (hyperventilation) and insufficient levels of oxygen in the circulating blood (hypoxemia). ARDS may develop in conjunction with widespread infection in the body (sepsis) or as a result of pneumonia, trauma, shock, severe burns, aspiration of food into the lung, multiple blood transfusions, and inhalation of toxic fumes, among other things.

Adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a life-threatening lung condition. It is a form of breathing failure that can occur in very ill or severely injured people. It is not a specific disease.The fluid buildup prevents the lungs from working properly that is, allowing the transfer of oxygen from air into the body and carbon dioxide out of the body into the air.

In ARDS, the tiny blood vessels in the lungs or the air sacs are damaged because of an infection, injury, blood loss, or inhalation injury. Fluid leaks from the blood vessels into air sacs of the lungs. While some air sacs fill with fluid, others collapse.

When the air sacs collapse or fill up with fluid, the lungs can no longer fill properly with air and the lungs become stiff. Without air entering the lungs properly, the amount of oxygen in the blood drops. When this happens, the person with ARDS must be given extra oxygen and may need the help of a breathing machine . Breathing failure can occur very quickly after the condition begins. It may take only 1 or 2 days for fluid to build up.

Causes of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome

Find common causes and risk factors of 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. These include inhaling high concentrations of smoke, toxins, or oxygen; severe burns; blood infection (sepsis); pneumonia; pancreatitis; trauma to other parts of the body; or drug overdose. Fluids can also get into the lungs and cause injury when they are breathed in (aspirated), such as in a near drowning or when a person who is unconscious vomits.

  • Trauma.
  • Aspiration of vomit .
  • Pneumonia .
  • Chemical inhalation .
  • Drugs and drug over-dosage
  • High altitude or radiation exposure
  • Toxic inhalation
  • Multiple blood transfusions.

Signs and Symptoms of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome

Sign and symptoms may include the following :

A patient will usually develop ARDS within 24 to 48 hours of the original illness or injury. Symptoms include difficult, shallow, rapid breathing; feelings of anxiety; and low blood pressure. Patients with fluid in the lungs will usually have a “crackling” and wheezing sound in the lungs that can be heard with a stethoscope. Because the blood oxygen is so low, the patient’s skin may look mottled or blue. In severe cases, low blood oxygen causes other organ systems, such as the liver, kidneys, heart, and brain, to fail.

  • Labored, rapid breathing .
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Rapid breathing .
  • Arms or legs puffy or swollen.
  • Bluish skin or fingernail color .
  • Nasal flaring .

Treatment for Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome

Treatment may include:

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. They are given oxygen through either a nasal tube or face mask. Severe cases require a ventilator, a mechanical device that forces air in and out of the lungs through a tube passed through the nose or mouth and into the trachea. Medications, such as antibiotics and steroids, may also be used to treat infections and reduce inflammation. The amount of oxygen needed decreases as the lungs heal. During treatment, intravenous fluids are given to prevent dehydration and provide nutrition. The outlook for recovery is good when ARDS is treated quickly and the patient responds promptly. However, patients who spend long periods of time on a ventilator usually develop scarring on the lungs. This scarring may take months to heal and will cause mild to severe breathing difficulties depending upon the amount of permanent damage.

  • Corticosteroids may sometimes be administered in late phases of ARDS or if the patient is in shock .
  • Treatment is primarily supportive using a mechanical respirator and supplemental oxygen.
  • Intravenous fluids are given to provide nutrition and prevent dehydration, and are carefully monitored to prevent fluid from accumulating in the lungs (pulmonary edema ).
  • Because infection is often the underlying cause of ARDS, appropriate antibiotic therapy is administered.
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