Acute respiratory distress syndrome: Symptoms & Signs, Diagnosis & Tests

Symptoms & Signs

* Labored, rapid breathing
* Low blood pressure and organ failure
* Shortness of breath

Symptoms usually develop within 24 to 48 hours of the original injury or illness. Often, people with ARDS are so sick they are unable to complain of symptoms.

Diagnosis & Tests

Listening to the chest with a stethoscope (auscultation) reveals abnormal breath sounds, such as crackles that suggest fluid in the lungs. Often the blood pressure is low. Cyanosis (blue skin, lips, and nails caused by lack of oxygen to the tissues) is often seen.

http://www.health32.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/lungs.jpg

Tests used to diagnose ARDS include:

* Arterial blood gas
* Bronchoscopy
* CBC and blood chemistries
* Chest x-ray
* Sputum cultures and analysis
* Tests for possible infections

Occasionally an echocardiogram or Swan-Ganz catheterization may need to be done to rule out congestive heart failure, which can look similar to ARDS on a chest x-ray.

Acute respiratory distress syndrome: Overview, Causes

Acute respiratory distress syndrome: Symptoms & Signs, Diagnosis & Tests

Acute respiratory distress syndrome: Treatment


Review Date : 1/22/2010
Reviewed By : Allen J. Blaivas, DO, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, UMDNJ-NJMS, Attending Physician in the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine, Department of Veteran Affairs, VA New Jersey Health Care System, East Orange, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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