Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS)


Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a dangerous form of lung failure. It can occur in anyone as a result of lung injury or infection. ARDS is also called "shock lung" or "wet lung". This type of lung injury causes the blood vessels in the lung to leak fluid into the tiny breathing sacs (alveoli). The fluid prevents oxygen from getting into the bloodstream and causes abnormally low oxygen blood levels (hypoxemia). People with ARDS cannot breath without the help of a breathing machine.


Conditions that may cause ARDS include shock, infection (sepsis), pneumonia, trauma (especially lung trauma), stomach contents or other foreign contents entering the lung (aspiration injury), drug overdose and surgery.


The treatment for ARDS is supportive. Most patients require a breathing tube and breathing machine until lung functioning has adequately improved.


People with ARDS are very sick. Despite improvements in the treatment of ARDS, many people with ARDS still die. If you have further questions, talk with the doctor or nurse.

Related Links

National Library of Medicine
The National Library of Medicine presents information and pictures about ARDS.