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Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS)


Dr. Green
Acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS, is a lung condition that leads to low oxygen levels in the blood. Captain Miller, can you tell us about ARDS?

Captain Miller
Of course, Dr. Green. ARDS can be a life-threatening condition because the body's organs need oxygen-rich blood to work well.

Most people who develop ARDS are very ill with another disease or have major injuries. Infections, injuries, and other conditions can cause fluid to build up in the alveoli, where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the lungs and blood normally takes place. As a result of this fluid buildup, the lungs can't fill with air or move enough oxygen into the bloodstream.

When organs throughout the body, such as the kidneys and the brain, don't get enough oxygen, they don't work as well, and can even become damaged. Other complications that are associated with ARDS include pneumothorax, or collapsed lung, and lung scarring.

ARDS is treated in a hospital's intensive care unit, or ICU. Treatment approaches focus on improving blood oxygen levels through oxygen therapy and providing supportive care to relieve symptoms and prevent complications. The underlying cause of the condition is also treated.