ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome) - Diagnosis

Not ready to share? Read other Patient Comments

Describe the events that led to a diagnosis of ARDS. Were you being treated for another condition?

Share your story with others:

MedicineNet appreciates your comment. Your comment may be displayed on the site and will always be published anonymously.Patient Comments FAQs

Enter your Comment

Tell us a bit about your background to make your comments more useful to other MedicineNet users. (Optional)

Screen Name: *

Gender of Patient: Male Female

Age Range of Patient:

I am a: Patient Caregiver


* Screen Name will appear next to the published comment. Please do not include your full name or email address.

By submitting your comment, and other materials (collectively referred to as a "Submission") to MedicineNet, you grant MedicineNet permission to use, copy, transmit, publish, display, edit and modify your Submission in connection with its Web site. MedicineNet will not pay you for your Submission. You represent that you have all rights necessary for MedicineNet to use your Submission as set forth above.

Please keep these guidelines in mind when writing your comment:

  • Please make sure you address the question asked.
  • Due to the overwhelming number of comments received, not all comments will be published.
  • When selecting comments to publish, our staff will choose those that are educational and complement the topic. Please try to stay on topic.
  • Your comment may be edited. We would typically edit comments to make them clearer and more readable. We will remove personal information such as last names, email and web addresses, and other potentially harmful information.
  • We will not notify you if your comment has been published. We suggest that you check back on the topic article regularly.
  • We do not provide medical or healthcare advice, treatment, or diagnosis.

Thank you for participating!


I have read and agree to abide by the MedicineNet Terms and Conditions and the MedicineNet Privacy Policy (required).

To prevent our systems from spam, please complete the following prior to submitting your comment.

Please select the white triangle:

How is ARDS Diagnosed?

Your doctor will diagnose ARDS based on your medical history, a physical exam, and test results.

Medical History

Your doctor will ask whether you have or have recently had conditions that could lead to ARDS.

Your doctor also will ask whether you have heart problems, such as heart failure. Heart failure can cause fluid to build up in your lungs.

Physical Exam

ARDS may cause abnormal breathing sounds, such as crackling. Your doctor will listen to your lungs with a stethoscope to hear these sounds.

He or she also will listen to your heart and look for signs of extra fluid in other parts of your body. Extra fluid may mean you have heart or kidney problems.

Your doctor will look for a bluish color on your skin and lips. A bluish color means your blood has a low level of oxygen. This is a possible sign of ARDS.

Diagnostic Tests

You may have ARDS or another condition that causes similar symptoms. To find out, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following tests.

Initial Tests

The first tests done are:

  • An arterial blood gas test. This blood test shows the oxygen level in your blood. A low level of oxygen in the blood may be a sign of ARDS.
  • Chest X-ray. This test is used to take pictures of the structures in your chest, such as your heart, lungs, and blood vessels. It can show whether you have extra fluid in your lungs.
  • Blood tests, such as a complete blood count, blood chemistries, and blood cultures. These tests help find the cause of ARDS, such as an infection.
  • A sputum culture. This test is used to study the spit you've coughed up from your lungs. A sputum culture can help find the cause of an infection.

Other Tests

Other tests used to diagnose ARDS include:

  • Chest computed tomography (to-MOG-rah-fee) scan, or chest CT scan. This test uses a computer to create detailed pictures of your lungs. A chest CT scan may show lung problems, such as fluid in the lungs, signs of pneumonia, or a tumor.
  • Heart tests that look for signs of heart failure. Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can't pump enough blood to meet the body's needs. This condition can cause fluid to build up in your lungs.
Return to ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome)

See what others are saying

Comment from: momlen, 65-74 Male (Caregiver) Published: February 26

My husband was admitted to hospital with loss of feeling in his feet and tingling in his hands. Every test was run and nothing found. He continued to lose feeling, oxygen levels dropped, and blood pressure very high. Long story short he continued to get worse, unable to feed himself, or function. He was aspirated, ended up being put on ventilator, RotoProne bed. This man was not sick prior to all these events and was going to work. He passed away 1-23-14 after being admitted 1-2-14. His death certificate read cause of death ARDS. He was under extreme stress before all these happenings and don"t know if this could have been cause of this.

Was this comment helpful?Yes
Comment from: Gale, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: February 26

I began feeling ill on a Monday and by Wednesday was in the hospital with pneumonia. By Thursday night I was in the ICU where I spent 6 days most of which I don"t remember. My oxygen levels were low and I"m told I didn"t make much sense when I spoke. I was diagnosed with ARDS and spent a total of 2 weeks in the hospital and then spent 2 1/2 months out of work recuperating from the illness. I was so weakened after the 2 weeks in the hospital that I had physical therapy for 8 weeks. I"m told I was very near death.

Was this comment helpful?Yes

STAY INFORMED

Get the latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!