Adult respiratory distress syndrome - Symptoms, Causes, Treatment of Adult respiratory distress


Description of Adult respiratory distress syndrome

Adult respiratory distress syndrome is a severe respiratory failure, which is often fatal, brought about by a number of different disorders. In newborn babies, a similar condition is known as hyaline membrane disease.

Persons most commonly affected

Adults and children (except newborn) of both sexes and all ages.

Symptoms and indications of Adult respiratory distress syndrome

A lack of oxygen in the blood, which is indicated by a blueness (cyanosis) of the skin, an abnormally rapid rate of breathing (tachypnoea) and a raised heartbeat rate (tachycardia). There is pulmonary oedema (a collection of fluid in the lungs) and the substance known as surfactant, which prevents the lungs' sacs (alveoli) from collapsing and allows oxygen to pass in and carbon dioxide to pass out, is lost. These conditions lead to the lungs becoming stiff and ineffective; death follows without emergency medical intervention. A person with signs of this disorder requires urgent medical treatment.

Treatment of Adult respiratory distress syndrome

Intensive care treatment, including mechanical ventilation of the lungs and management of the patient's fluid balance to reduce pulmonary oedema. Also, the underlying cause of the respiratory failure is treated if this is possible. Surfactant may be given by means of a nebuliser or aerosol.

Causes and risk factors of Adult respiratory distress syndrome

There are a variety of different causes of this disorder, which may be broadly divided into four categories: .Physical causes, including injury to the lungs, inhalation of water as in drowning, vomit or other foreign substance.

Bacterial, viral or fungal infection of the lungs or other part of the body, as in various diseases including PNEUMONIA, sepsis, poliomyelitis. As a response by the patient's immune system following blood transfusion or cardiopulmonary bypass surgery. Accidental inhalation of poisonous fumes and smoke, ingestion of certain chemicals and drugs.

As a complication of various other diseases and disorders, including ASTHMA, EMPHYSEMA, MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY, PANCREATITIS, GUILLAIN-BARRE SYNDROME, uraemia, MYASTHENIA GRAVIS.

Patients who receive mechanical ventilation for a long period may develop complications in the form of secondary infections and PNEUMOTHORAX, which require additional treatment. The survival rate for patients with this condition is about 50%, and those who respond well suffer little lung damage. There is a greater likelihood of lung damage in those patients needing prolonged mechanical ventilation.


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