It is a severe lung condition which occurs when fluid fills up the tiny air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. This deprives the organs of the oxygen supply which is essential for their functioning. Long term oxygen deprivation can lead to organ failure.
The fluid interferes with the entry of air in the lungs and reduces the amount of oxygen entering the bloodstream.
ARDS most commonly affects hospitalized patients and those who are critically ill. Symptoms usually occur a few days after the trauma or infection. ARDS is a medical emergency and requires prompt medical treatment. The risk of death (mortality) increases with age and severity of infection.
Individuals who fall under following category are at an increased risk of developing ARDS
ARDS is a potential life-threatening situation and early diagnosis improves the chances of survival. The cardinal features of the condition are low blood pressure and low oxygen saturation; therefore, your doctor will first measure these parameters. He/she will also perform a thorough physical examination and look for signs of oxygen desaturation such as bluish discoloration of nails and/or lips. To confirm the diagnosis, your doctor may recommend you to undergo any of the following tests-
There is no definite cure available for ARDS. The treatment aims at providing symptomatic relief to the patients and prevents worsening of the condition. The four main pillars of ARDS treatment are-
Patients recovering from ARDS will be advised to undergo pulmonary rehabilitation. This is usually done by a respiratory therapist or a physical therapist specialising in respiratory disease management. The program consists of several breathing exercises, simple exercises of upper extremities (shoulder and arms) and some aerobic exercises. The rehabilitation program will be customized depending on the severity of disease and overall health of the patient.
The therapy aims at strengthening the respiratory muscles and increasing the lung capacities. Your therapist will also educate and counsel you about your condition and suggest coping strategies on how to effectively recover from ARDS.
If you're recovering from ARDS, the following suggestions will protect your lungs and fasten the recovery: