The lungs are responsible for the exchange of gas between the blood and the inhaled air. This happens is microscopic blind air-filled sacs called alveoli. The alveoli are surrounded by tiny blood vessels called capillaries which bring in the blood for exchange of gas at the alveoli. As the inhaled air enters the alveoli, they expand, and on exhalation they shrink. The inner surface of alveoli is covered by a thin layer of surfactant that prevents the collapse of alveoli during exhalation. Multiple factors can cause damage to this membrane leading to a disease called Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). Population-based estimates of ARDS range from 10 to 86 cases per 100,000.
ARDS is caused due to injury to the membrane lining the inner surface of alveoli. There are many different conditions that can injure the membrane and hence increase the risk of ARDS. The risk factors are:
ARDS presents with a wide variety of symptoms:
The severity of the symptoms also depends on other underlying diseases.
The diagnosis of ARDS is confirmed by correlating the clinical findings with the imaging. First, your doctor would like to record the history of your symptoms followed by a physical examination. Your provider would like to hear and look for abnormal sounds from your lungs with the help of a stethoscope. After this, a few tests may be requested to confirm the diagnosis of ARDS. They are:
Complications seen in patients with ARDS are:
Patients who survive this disorder are at a high risk of depression, cognitive decline, persistent skeletal muscle weakness, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The treatment for ARDS has two goals- to identify and treat the cause of ARDS and to reduce the symptoms.
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