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What is the Treatment for Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome?

Discover vital treatments for Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), including ventilator support, prone positioning, medications, and ECMO. Early diagnosis is crucial for effective care.

  • 05 Feb 2024
  • 2 min read

ARDS is an inflammatory lung ailment when alveoli (tiny air sacs in the lungs) are accumulated with fluids. Accumulated fluids restrict air from reaching the lungs and cause dangerously low oxygen levels, known as hypoxemia. It could be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Knowledge and awareness are the first steps towards cure. This article will explore various forms of ARDS treatment. 

Treatment of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS)

  • At present, acute respiratory distress syndrome treatment focuses on supportive care to heal the lungs of patients. The purpose of supportive therapy is to ensure sufficient oxygen supply into the blood and remove or prevent damages that lead ARDS to aggravate.
  • ARDS diagnoses include chest X-rays, checking oxygen levels, and physical examinations. Doctors also check the symptoms to rule out probabilities of other diseases, such as cardiac problems.
  • Ventilator support: Ventilators are used as part of ARDS treatment. A ventilator machine is connected to the patient with a mask on the face to clear air spaces that have been closed due to accumulation. Ventilator support helps provide the required quantity of oxygen to the lungs and helps them improve functioning. Another option is to insert a tube through the windpipe.
  • Prone positioning: Patients with ARDS generally lie in bed on their back. When oxygen in the blood is low despite active ventilator therapies, doctors suggest turning patients on their stomachs. It might improve blood oxygen levels for a period. The process is called pruning, and some people with severe ARDS conditions might feel it is complicated.
  • Sedation and Medications: acute respiratory distress syndrome also includes sedation and medications to control shortness of breath agitation and help to adjust with the ventilator support treatment. Doctors closely monitor drugs known as paralytics, as these medicines might have specific side effects.
  • Fluid management: ARDS treatment also includes a medication known as a diuretic to remove extra fluid from the body to minimise accumulation in the lungs and improve ARDS condition. The medicine increases urination. However, this supportive treatment must be done with caution because extra fluid extraction from the body might lead to low blood pressure and kidney problems.
  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO): It is a complicated ARDS treatment method with probable complications and is unsuitable for all ARDS patients. In this treatment, doctors pump out blood from the body, add oxygen through a membrane, remove carbon dioxide, and pump the blood back into the patient’s body.

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These are major supportive acute respiratory distress syndrome treatments focusing on reducing inflammation and improving oxygen supply to the lungs. Signs and symptoms of ARDS include shortness of breath, fatigue and extreme exhaustion, rapid heartbeat, low BP, mental confusion, chest pain and coughing. Consult your doctor immediately to diagnose ARDS and eliminate the probability of other diseases. Also, health insurance is a lifesaver in such medical emergencies to shield against sudden financial burdens.

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