What is Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome?: Treatment and Outcome for ARDS
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What is Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome?: Treatment and Outcome for ARDS

ARDS or acute respiratory distress syndrome is associated with accumulation of fluids in the air sacs in the lungs. THis accumulation of fluid in the air sacs results in oxygen insufficiency resulting in a wide range of symptoms. The condition has a very poor prognosis and treatment needs to be prompt

Acute respiratory distress syndrome or ARDS is a condition wherein fluid builds up in the alveoli or the air sacs located in the lungs. A fluid build up in the lungs means that reduced amount of oxygen reaches the bloodstream. Consequently, the organs get robbed of the oxygen supply that is required in order to function optimally.

Acute respiratory distress syndrome usually develops in individuals who are chronically ill or is associated with extensive trauma and injury. Extreme breathlessness and dyspnea develops within a few hours and may continue for several days following trauma or onset of a chronic ailment. .

What are the Symptoms of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome?

The significant clinical manifestations of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome include:

  • Breathlessness and gasping for breath
  • Labored and rapid breathing
  • Blood pressure drops
  • Exhaustion and fatigue
  • Confusion, delirium

Typically, the symptoms occur after an injury or a major illness; and in majority of the cases, the condition is associated with individuals have are hospitalized, making it one of the most common nosocomial disease.

Causes of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome

  • Sepsis: widespread infection of the bloodstream is the chief cause of ARDS.
  • Inhalation of injurious, dangerous substances: inhalation of smoke, chemical fumes, etc. can cause ARDS. Similarly aspiration can also result in ARDS.
  • Severe pneumonia: increases the risk of ARDS.
  • Trauma to the head or the chest: car accidents, falls, etc. directly damage and impair that part of the brain that oversees breathing or the lung tissue.
  • Chronic alcoholism: big risk factor for acute respiratory distress syndrome.

Treatment for Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome: Prognosis and Outcome of ARDS

The primary aim of treatment of ARDS is to improve the oxygen concentration in the blood

  • Supplementary Oxygen is supplied through a mask and is reasonably effective for the management of mild to moderate symptoms associated with the condition.
  • Some people need to be put on to a mechanical ventilator to aid the process of breathing and help them breathe normally.
  • Cautious management of the amount of intravenous fluids is essential. Too much of fluid can result in building up of fluid in lung parenchyma further complicating matters. On the other hand inadequate amount of fluid exerts excessive strain on the cardiac muscles. Inadequate fluids can also limit the supply of oxygen to other organs which in turn may result in shock and multiple organ failure.
  • Drugs must e administered to prevent as well as to treat infections, ease pain, decrease gastric reflux. Medications also play a crucial role in preventing clot formation which in turn may result in obstruction of blood flow to the various organs.

Outcome of ARDS is fairly poor; a large number of patients diagnosed with the condition often fail to survive for longer than a few days. Risk of death increases with increasing age; and depends on the severity of trauma / illness. Those who do survive, may get better completely, or may be left with permanent lung damage. The condition also results in the development of certain complications like fibrosis of the lung tissue, pneumothorax, clot formation, memory loss and depression.

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Comments (1)

ARDS is really frightening.Thanks for sharing.