Acute respiratory distress syndrome or ARDS, also known as respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) or adult respiratory distress syndrome is a serious reaction to various forms of injuries or acute infection to the lung. ARDS is a severe lung syndrome (not a disease) caused by a variety of direct and indirect causes. It is characterized by inflammation of the lung parenchyma leading to an impaired gas exchange with the concomitant systemic release of inflammatory mediators causing inflammation, hypoxemia and frequently resulting in multiple organ failures.
Mechanically acute respiratory distress syndrome( ARDS) is the leakage of fluids from the small blood vessels into the tiny air sacs of the lungs where oxygenation of blood takes place. Normally, a protective membrane keeps this fluid in the vessels. Severe illness or injury, however, can cause damage to the membrane, leading to the fluid leakage of ARDS.
Acute respiratory distress syndrome( ARDS) typically occurs in people who are already critically ill or who have significant injuries. Severe shortness of breath — the main symptom of ARDS — usually develops within a few hours to a few days after the precipitating injury or infection.
This is an acute emergency situation which may be fatal in some cases. The prognosis of the disease depends upon the situations like age, early diagnosis, and severity of the illness of the person. Sometimes there may be a recovery with lasting damage to the lungs of the patient.
What are the causes of ARDS?
The common underlying causes of ARDS include:
• Sepsis. The most common cause of ARDS is sepsis, a serious and widespread infection of the bloodstream.
. Inhalation of harmful substances. Breathing high concentrations of toxic smoke or chemical fumes can result in ARDS, as can inhaling (aspirating) vomit or near-drowning episodes.
• Severe pneumonia. Severe cases of pneumonia usually affect all five lobes of the lungs.
• Head, chest or another major injury. Accidents, such as falls or car crashes, can directly damage the lungs or the portion of the brain that controls breathing.
• Others- Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), massive blood transfusions and burns.
Most people who develop ARDS have already hospitalized for another condition are more prone to ARDS. You’re especially at risk if you have a widespread infection in your bloodstream (sepsis).
People who have a history of chronic alcoholism are at higher risk of developing ARDS. They’re also more likely to die of ARDS.
What are the signs and symptoms?
The signs and symptoms of ARDS can vary in intensity, depending on its cause and severity, as well as the presence of underlying heart or lung disease. They include:
• Severe shortness of breath
• Labored and unusually rapid breathing
• Low blood pressure
• Confusion and extreme tiredness
What if ARDS remains untreated?
If you have ARDS, you can develop other medical problems while in the hospital. The most common problems are:
• Blood clots. Lying still in the hospital while you’re on a ventilator can increase your risk of developing blood clots, particularly in the deep veins in your legs. If a clot forms in your leg, a portion of it can break off and travel to one or both of your lungs (pulmonary embolism) — where it blocks blood flow.
• Collapsed lung (pneumothorax). In most ARDS cases, a breathing machine called a ventilator is used to increase oxygen in the body and force fluid out of the lungs. However, the pressure and air volume of the ventilator can force gas to go through a small hole in the very outside of a lung and cause that lung to collapse.
• Infections. Because the ventilator is attached directly to a tube inserted in your windpipe, this makes it much easier for germs to infect and further injure your lungs.
• Scarring (pulmonary fibrosis). Scarring and thickening of the tissue between the air sacs can occur within a few weeks of the onset of ARDS. This stiffens your lungs, making it even more difficult for oxygen to flow from the air sacs into your bloodstream.
Thanks to improved treatments, more people are surviving ARDS. However, many survivors end up with potentially serious and sometimes lasting effects:
• Breathing problems. Many people with ARDS recover most of their lung function within several months to two years, but others may have breathing problems for the rest of their lives. Even people who do well usually have shortness of breath and fatigue and may need supplemental oxygen at home for a few months.
• Depression. Most ARDS survivors also report going through a period of depression, which is treatable.
• Problems with memory and thinking clearly. Sedatives and low levels of oxygen in the blood can lead to memory loss and cognitive problems after ARDS. In some cases, the effects may lessen over time, but in others, the damage may be permanent.
• Tiredness and muscle weakness. Being in the hospital and on a ventilator can cause your muscles to weaken. You also may feel very tired following treatment.
What are the investigations to diagnose ARDS?
• Chest X-ray. A chest X-ray can reveal which parts of your lungs and how much of the lungs have fluid in them and whether your heart is enlarged.
• Computerized tomography (CT). A CT scan combines X-ray images taken from many different directions into cross-sectional views of internal organs. CT scans can provide detailed information about the structures within the heart and lungs.
A test using blood from an artery in your wrist can measure your oxygen level. Other types of blood tests can check for signs of infection or anemia. If your doctor suspects that you have a lung infection, secretions from your airway may be tested to determine the cause of the infection.
Because the signs and symptoms of ARDS are similar to those of certain heart problems, your doctor may recommend heart tests such as:
• Electrocardiogram. This painless test tracks the electrical activity in your heart. It involves attaching several wired sensors to your body.
• Echocardiogram. A sonogram of the heart, this test can reveal problems with the structures and the function of your heart.
Common homeopathic remedies for ARDS
Why not ask your query directly to Dr. Thind’s team? Get an expert opinion FOR FREE!