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Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome (Ards) Essay

1361 words - 5 pages

Adult respiratory distress syndrome, also known as congestive atelectasis or shock lung, is the rapid malfunction of the lungs. The ability to take in oxygen severely weakens and usually is associated with the malfunction of other organs. The condition has to do with extensive pulmonary inflammation and small blood vessel injury in affected organs. ARDS is the result from widespread acute injury to the alveolar capillary membrane. One can be diagnosed with ARDS by intensive trauma, surgery, head injuries, or shock. Although it can become very severe, there are many ways of treatment. There are some minor symptoms that come with ARDS that may be noticed so that one can be treated immediately to prevent further damage.To understand ARDS, it is important to review how the lungs work. Air, which contains oxygen, is inhaled through the nose and mouth, and passes into the windpipe (trachea). From the trachea, air flows through tubes called bronchi into microscopic air sacs called alveoli. Very small blood vessels (capillaries) are imbedded in the walls of these air sacs. Oxygen passes through the thin walls of the alveoli into the bloodstream. Carbon dioxide, a waste product of cellular function throughout the body, passes from the bloodstream into the alveoli and then is exhaled.At the onset of ARDS, lung injury may first appear in one lung, but then quickly spreads to affect most of both lungs. Inflammation may irritate the injury because of the release of oxidants and lysosomal enzymes from activated leukocytes. The infection is caused by a variety of conditions that directly or indirectly cause the blood vessels to "leak" fluid into the lungs. ARDS affects these glassy pink membranes that line the insides of alveoli. The ability of the lungs to expand is severely decreased and damage to the air sacs and lining of the lung is extensive. Blood concentration of oxygen remains very low in spite of high concentrations of supplemental oxygen given to the patient.ARDS has a fatality rate of approximately 50% despite supportive therapy, including assisted respiration. It is difficult to estimate the incidence of ARDS because it is often associated with other severe illnesses. It is mainly known to be a common problem in hospital intensive care units. Pathophysiology ARDS is the end result of acute alveolar injury caused by a variety of insults and probably initiated by different mechanisms. The initial injury is to either the capillary endothelium or alveolar epithelium. The capillary defect is produced by an interaction of inflammatory cells and mediators, including leukocytes, cytokines and oxygen radicals that damages the endothelium and allows fluid and proteins to leak.Since ARDS was first described in 1967, the prognosis has improved slightly despite rapid advancements in medical science and technology. Statistical data reveals that approximately one half of who develop ARDS each year will survive in the United States and other countries which have...

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