Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a respiratory condition where insufficient oxygen gets into the lungs and blood. It is life-threatening and is caused by injury to the lungs.
What Types of Injury Cause ARDS?
The following injuries can cause ARDS:
• Pneumonia -- can result in scarring of lung tissue, making it difficult for lungs to work properly)
• Influenza -- usually a moderate illness but can be more severe in the very young, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems
• Trauma involving severe chest injury
• Lung transplantation surgery
• Vomit aspiration -- can occur if intoxicated or as a result of illness or disability, or aspiration of food
• Inhalation of chemicals
• Septic shock -- where infection spreads throughout the body
• Drug overdose
• Near drowning
• Smoke inhalation
• Acute pancreatitis -- inflammation from the pancreas can spread throughout the body
• Fracture of one of the long bones -- fat particles can be released where they can travel up into the lungs and cause respiratory difficulty
What are the Symptoms of ARDS?
Symptoms are shortness of breath, tiredness, drowsiness or confusion, difficulty breathing, rapid breathing, shortness of breath, blue lips, fingers and toes.
Often, people who develop ARDS are seriously ill so they cannot complain of symptoms. The majority of those affected have already been hospitalized due to serious illness.
The condition is diagnosed by blood tests, chest X-rays and a bronchoscopy. A bronchoscopy is a telescope that is put through the nose or mouth and then through the trachea (windpipe) and into the lungs.
This allows the doctors to see inside the airways and lungs. This is usually done with a local anaesthetic spray so the patient doesn’t feel too much discomfort.
Treatment is intensive care. A third of sufferers will die of the condition.
A breathing machine is used to deliver high dose oxygen into the damaged lungs.
The patient is usually sedated or medically paralysed when using this machine as this increases the chance of survival.
Total nutrition will be given through an IV line.