There’s no definite test to diagnose Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. Diagnosis is made by ruling out other diseases that can cause similar symptoms.
Diagnosing Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome
- Chest X-ray: reveals those segments / portions of the lung that have fluid accumulation in them, and whether the heart has enlarged.
- Computerized tomography (CT): CT scans give detailed data about the structures within the lungs and the heart.
- Blood tests: blood tests, using blood from an artery in the wrist help measure the level of oxygen. Other blood tests check for signs of anemia or infections. Secretions from the airway may also be tested to establish the cause of the infection.
- Electrocardiogram: the ECG tracks the electrical activity in your heart and is done to rule out any cardiac involvement, since the symptoms overlap.
- Echocardiogram: sonogram of the heart reveals disorders / impairments in the structures and the functioning of the heart.
Treating Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome
The primary aim while treating ARDS is to enhance the levels of oxygen in the blood.
- Supplemental oxygen is administered for mild symptoms of ARDS or as a provisional measure; oxygen is given through a mask that fits over the nose and mouth.
- Mechanical ventilation: some people are put on to a ventilator, a device to help breathe. The ventilator pushes air in to the lungs and forces some of the fluid out from the alveoli.
- Careful management of the quantity of IV fluids is very crucial. Excessive fluid increases the fluid accumulation in the lungs; while, too little fluid puts a strain on the heart and other organs, leading to shock.
- Drugs are also administered to prevent and treat infections, allay pain, reduce gastric reflux and prevent clot formation in the lungs and legs.
Furthermore, those have recovered from the disease; must quit smoking, it is also crucial to avoid second-hand smoke. Also, quit alcohol. Alcohol relaxes the portion of the upper airway that prevents foreign bodies from entering the lungs. Doctors also recommend yearly influenza vaccine and 5 yearly pneumonia vaccine to reduce the risk of lung infections.
Prognosis of ARDS
Prognosis of ARDS is fairly poor; a large number of people having ARDS do not survive.
ARDS is very serious, however, improved treatments, ensure that people survive the condition. On the other hand, many survivors develop severe and lasting complications, such as:
- Pulmonary fibrosis: thickening and scarring of the tissue between the alveoli occurs. This stiffens the lungs, making it difficult for oxygen to flow from the alveoli in to the blood.
- Pneumothorax: when a ventilator is used to manage ARDS, the pressure and air volume of the machine can force gas to go through a tiny opening in the very outside of a lung and cause that lungs to collapse.
- Blood clots: lying in a prone position triggers the development of blood clots, chiefly in the deep veins in the legs. Clots can even travel to one of the lungs and block the flow of blood.
- Infections: the ventilator is attached to a tube that is introduced in the windpipe, making it easier for microbes to enter and multiply.
- Abnormal lung function: some people complain of breathing difficulty for the rest of their lives.
- Low levels of oxygen in the blood and administration of sedatives can lead to memory loss and cognitive problems. Depression is also commonly seen after recovery from ARDS.