December 3, 2009

Treating Tips For Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS)

Posted in Category : Common Ailments

Adult respiratory distress syndrome is also known as acute respiratory distress syndrome. It is a condition characterized by excess fluid accumulation in the lungs which leads to lung failure. It occurs when there is damage to the membranes that prevent fluid from seeping into the air sacs of the lungs. ARDS refers to the symptoms that collectively constitute pulmonary or respiratory failure. It can be a serious condition and requires immediate medical attention. ARDS is also referred to as shock lung. Despite its name, it does not necessarily only develop in adults and can take place in children too.

There is a certain area in the lungs called the alveolo capillary junction where the airs sacs or breathing sacs come in contact with the capillaries. Here, oxygen from inhaled air passes into the blood, from where it is supplied to other parts of the body. Any sort of injury that affects this important point of contact causes fluid and blood to flow into the air sacs. This fills up the sacs and prevents air from entering. The breathing difficulties that arise are known as ARDS. In addition to the fluid, there is also inflammation of the cells in the lungs. The remnants of these damaged cells combine with fibrin, a component that is obtained from the blood, and form membranes. These are called hyalin membranes and are common in premature babies who suffer from acute respiratory distress syndrome. Chronic ARDS can prevent healing from taking place in the lungs. Scarring then begins to take place. Since a normal flow of oxygen is interrupted, the lung vessels become narrower and scarring and blood clotting may also occur after some time. This causes a stiffening of the lungs, increasing breathing distress.

ARDS Causes

ARDS may be caused by various factors. These include physical factors such as damage to the lungs due to injury, inhalation of water due to drowning, inhalation of vomit or any other external substance. Infections can also affect the lungs and these can be viral, bacterial or fungal. An example of this type of infection would be pneumonia. Another cause could be the reaction of the individual’s immune system after a surgery involving the heart or lungs, and also after a blood transfusion. Since ARDS is a serious condition, immediate intensive medical care is required. This may involve lung ventilation in order to provide oxygen to the lungs. The fluid content is also balanced in order to reduce the blockage. Any underlying factors that may have led to the condition are also treated. Since infections are usually the cause of ARDS, antibiotic treatment is also given to the patient.