ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome): Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019

Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) refers to a condition of the lungs that results in low oxygen levels in the blood. ARDS is a serious condition and can be life threatening. It usually occurs in people who are hospitalized for other reasons. Some common conditions and factors that cause ARDS are pneumonia, sepsis, trauma with severe bleeding, breathing in harmful fumes or smoke, and inhaling stomach contents that have been vomited (known as aspiration).

Signs and symptoms of ARDS are rapid breathing, shortness of breath, and a low blood oxygen level. Other associated symptoms and signs depend on the cause of the condition and can include fever, fatigue, weakness, headache, bluish discoloration of the skin (cyanosis), fast pulse, headache, and low blood pressure.

Other ards symptoms and signs


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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.