The Acute respiratory distress syndrome or ARDS is a failure of our lung due to inflammation. Shortness of breath, quick breaths, and a slightly significant bluish discoloration of the skin are the symptoms of ARDS. For many patients who successfully survived this syndrome, lead a somewhat diminished life in terms of lung quality and breathing.
ARDS have many causes. It may be because of a trauma in your body that lead to ARDS. These traumas are likened to any lung diseases or disorders before the onset of ARDS.
So, what does ARDS do with our body? ARDS mainly prevents our lungs from exchanging carbon dioxide to oxygen. Usually, doctors treat their ARDS patients with mechanical ventilation, medication, and several treatments. ARDS can be cured by several treatments. For example, doctors use lung maneuvers, paralysis, ECMO and so on and so forth in efforts of reviving the lung from this syndrome.
ARDS is so important to be reversed as the mortality rate of this syndrome ranges from 35% to 60%. In addition to that, it is not a rare syndrome so at least 3 million people may get this syndrome per year. ARDS can also affect people at any point in their lives. Meaning, you can be as vigorous as 21 years old and yet you could still develop ARDS within your lungs.
There is actually a more mild type of ARDS and it is called the severe form of acute lung injury or ALI. There is also another of ARDS which is popular amongst children and it is called pediatric acute respiratory distress syndrome or PARDS.
Symptoms of ARDS
The symptoms of ARDS usually appear one to three days after the ARDS cycle is complete. In other cases of ARDS, it may begin right after an hour. The symptoms of ARDS may include but not limited to:
- Quick breathing;
- Shortness of breathing;
- Skin discoloration due to the low level of oxygen in the blood.
What Causes the Appearance of ARDS?
You know that a case of ARDS happened when there is a problem with the processes of diffusion in your lungs. More specifically put into a medical term, there is a failure of the lungs to exchange carbon dioxide into oxygen. In some cases, this happens within a blink of an eye without you even knowing and in some cases, a lung trauma has happened before that led to the occurrence of ARDS in your lung system. ARDS might have been caused by an inflammation or infection of the lungs. For example, pneumonia, sepsis, pancreatitis, medicine side reactions, lung injuries, and so on and so forth.
An x-ray is used on your chest to see first the appearance of your lungs and then if the doctors are not convinced with their findings, several tests will be administered later on. One of the main criteria to which the doctor attributes the severity of the ARDS is by counting the decrease of oxygen in your blood. Very low oxygen than the normal level of it in your blood means that your ARDS is getting worse. Furthermore, the doctor also checks the following factors that might lead them to know better what is the condition of your lungs and of ARDS.
- If your lungs have significant opacities seen through a CT scan;
- A sudden respiratory failure for no reason at all;
- Significantly lowered oxygen in the blood.
Diagnosis of ARDS include the following tests, radiologic imaging, chest X-rays, CT scans, Ultrasounds, and so on and so forth.
If a patient has ARDS, most likely his or her lungs are filled with liquid. This accumulation of liquid might come from a prior trauma that prompts the lungs to be filled with liquid. The action of filling the lungs with liquid is a distress signal which indicates that the air sacs of the lungs are getting filled with liquid too. When that happens, the air sacs are prevented to do their job of exchanging carbon dioxide into oxygen. This is the reason why in ARDS, the patients have typically low-oxygen level in their blood. Thus, leading to more telltale signs of shortness of breath and the discoloration of the skin.
In the end, if ARDS is not successfully treated, there will be a partial failure of the lungs that will eventually lead to a total failure of the whole respiratory system. ARDS is a self-inflicting syndrome in which it triggers some lymphocytes of our body to gather up in the inflamed lungs and makes the syndrome much worse than it was before.
The Treatment of ARDS
If you are a patient with confirmed ARDS, your case will be immediately taken care of in the intensive care unit or ICU. The first relief for your treatment is mechanical ventilation. Mechanical ventilation is a non-invasive treatment that prevents the amplification of ARDS. The mechanical ventilation is commonly used during the first phase of ARDS and is usually not used anymore in severe cases of ARDS or as directed by a doctor. This is not only the sole treatment for ARDS. There are follow up treatments that cure the root cause of ARDS. For example, if your ARDS is caused by a lung infection, this will be treated with antibiotics. So once, the root of ARDS is treated, the protocol is, the rest of the treatment for ARDS follows.
Further Information About the Mechanical Ventilation
The use of Mechanical Ventilation for ARDS is such an effective method in making sure that there is still an acceptable level of exchange of the capillaries of carbon dioxide and oxygen. The mechanical ventilation makes sure that there is enough oxygen to support life, its bodily processes, and functions.
The Airway Pressure Ventilation
Some doctors prefer the Airway Pressure Ventilation when giving relief to a patient with ARDS. The Airway Pressure Ventilation promotes a lot of benefits for some parts of the body that ARDS have affected in a domino effect way. It promotes an increase of urine output that helps in the detoxification process of our body. It also promotes almost the constant exchange between carbon dioxide and oxygen. And it helps in eliminating the blockage in the alveolar sacs and even a positive effect in the cardiovascular system because of the normalcy of oxygen output. Another reason why Airway Pressure Ventilation is better to mechanical ventilation is that of the lesser days you only need to be immersed in. This lessens more the cost and preserves your resources.
Positive End-Expiratory Pressure or PEEP
As mentioned above, mechanical ventilation and Airway Pressure Ventilation is not the only way of treating ARDS. There is a follow-up treatment for ARDS. One of these follows up treatments is Positive End-Expiratory Pressure or PEEP. PEEP helps mechanical ventilation in improving the ability of our lungs to produce more oxygen. Though PEEP helps in opening up the alveolar sacs to be recruited for gas exchange, there is a risk associated with it.