What Is Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome?


Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome ( ARDS ) is a condition that occurs when fluid accumulates in the alveoli, the small air sacs and elastics in the lungs. Fluids usually seep from small blood vessels. This collection of fluids can make the lungs not enough air filled and the supply of oxygen to the bloodstream to be reduced. It causes organs, such as the kidneys and the brain, can not work normally or even stop functioning because it does not get enough oxygen. ARDS is usually experienced by people who have suffered critical illness or suffered severe injury. Most ARDS cause death, although there are also people who can recover completely. The magnitude of the risk of death depends on the age of the patient and the severity of ARDS.

Symptoms of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome
Symptoms experienced by people with ARDS may vary, depending on the cause and severity. Some of the symptoms that may be felt by people with ARDS are:
  • Breath becomes very short.
  • Shortness of breath and breathing frequency becomes rapid.
  • Blood pressure drops.
  • A decrease in consciousness and feel very tired.
  • A lot of sweating.
  • Dizzy.
  • Lips or nails are bluish in color.
  • Dry cough.
  • Fever.
  • Fast pulse rate.
Causes Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome
The cause of ARDS is the seepage of fluid from the smallest blood vessels in the lungs into the alveoli, the place where blood is supposed to be supplied with oxygen. Under normal conditions, the blood vessel membrane will keep fluid inside. The presence of severe injury or illness can cause leakage of fluid from the blood vessel wall. Injuries and diseases include:
  • Sepsis .
  • Inhalation of harmful substances, such as concentrated smoke or chemical vapors.
  • Pancreatitis .
  • Choking on vomit or near-drowning conditions.
  • Severe pneumonia .
  • Injury to the head, chest, or other body parts.
  • Burns .
  • Overdose of sleeping pills or antidepressants.
  • Receive blood transfusion with a lot of blood volume.
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Some of the factors that increase a person's risk of ARDS include:
  • Alcohol dependence.
  • Being over 65 years old.
  • Smoker.
  • Suffer from chronic lung disease.

Diagnosis of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome
There is no specific inspection method for detecting ARDS. The diagnosis of patients suspected of ARDS is based on physical examination, chest X-rays, and blood gas analysis of the arteries to see the levels of oxygen in the blood. Blood tests can also be done to see the presence of anemia or infection. In addition to X-rays, doctors can perform a CT scan to diagnose ARDS.

Cardiac examination may also be recommended for people with ARDS, as heart problems and ARDS have similar symptoms. Some of the heart tests that can be done are:
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG), to see electrical activity in the heart.
  • Echocardiography, to detect disorders of the patient's structures and heart function.

Treatment of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome
Some of the steps doctors can take to overcome ARDS are:
  • Giving oxygen. The doctor will raise the oxygen levels in the patient's bloodstream by providing additional oxygen through the nasal tube or mask.
  • Breathing apparatus or ventilator . Ventilators help provide extra air pressure to the lungs of the patient.
  • Adjust fluid intake. The doctor will regulate the amount of infusion fluids and nutrients that enter the patient's body, according to the results of clinical trials and the general state of the patient.
  • Provision of drugs. Doctors will provide medications to prevent and treat infections, relieve pain and discomfort, prevent blood clots in the legs and lungs, and minimize acid reflux and gastric contents. If necessary, sleeping pills, especially for patients who use breathing apparatus.
  • Lung rehabilitation. This action is needed to strengthen the respiratory system and increase lung capacity at recovery from ARDS.
Complications of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome
Patients with ARDS are at risk of developing complications while undergoing treatment. Some of these complications include:
  • Blood clotting. Lying constantly can increase the risk of blood clots, especially in deep vein thrombosis .
  • Lung collapse (pneumothorax). The use of ventilators serves to provide additional air pressure to increase oxygen flow in the blood. Ventilators also help clear fluids in the alveoli. However, ventilator use is risky to make small tears in the air sacs of the lungs, thus making the air in the lungs out through the small hole and cause the lungs to collapse.
  • Infection. To connect the lungs with the engine (ventilator), inserted pipes or hoses into the throat up through the vocal cords. This hose is a foreign body for the body at risk of injuring and irritating the respiratory tract, and a place of bacterial growth.
  • Pulmonary fibrosis. Pulmonary fibrosis causes the lungs to become inelastic and difficult to drain oxygen.
Some health problems are also at risk for patients who have successfully cured ARDS, such as:
  • Respiratory disorders (usually shortness of breath), to require additional oxygen upon return home.
  • Depression .
  • Impaired thinking power and memory due to the brain had shortage of oxygen supply.
  • Muscle weakening due to lying too long and not used.
  • Feeling weak and tired.

Prevention of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome
There are several things one can do to reduce the risk of suffering from ARDS, namely:
  • Stopping smoking and avoiding cigarette smoke.
  • Stop consuming alcoholic beverages.
  • Routine get a flu vaccine every year and pneumonia vaccine every five years to reduce the risk of lung infection.

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