Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome Treatment

Treatment for adult respiratory distress syndrome usually includes oxygen therapy, antibiotics, and mechanical ventilation. In some cases, positive pressure ventilation, which is less invasive, may be more effective. Acute respiratory distress syndrome usually requires care in an intensive care unit (ICU). Depending on the underlying cause, a person may require treatment in the ICU for one to four weeks.

Treatment for adult respiratory distress syndrome may include:

  • Oxygen therapy
  • Antibiotics for ARDS:
    • In order to treat an underlying infection
  • Corticosteroids for ARDS:
    • May be used for a short time during the first week of treatment
    • Prednisone
    • Medrol
  • Fluid restriction:
    • Limiting the amount of fluid in the diet and in intravenous (IV) fluids
  • Positive pressure ventilation:
    • Oxygen is delivered to the lungs under pressure, through a mask that fits tightly over the nose and mouth.
  • Mechanical ventilation:
    • A tube is placed in the airway and a mechanical ventilator is used to support breathing

Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome Specialist

Physicians from the following specialties evaluate and treat adult respiratory distress syndrome:

Continue to Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome Outlook

Last Updated: Jun 3, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome References
  1. Ashbaugh DG, Bigelow DB, Petty TL: Acute respiratory distress in adults. Lancet 1967 Aug 12; 2(7511): 319-23. [4143721]
  2. Bernard GR, Artigas A, Brigham KL: The American-European Consensus Conference on ARDS. Definitions, mechanisms, relevant outcomes, and clinical trial coordination. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 1994 Mar; 149(3 Pt 1): 818-24. [7509706]
  3. Booth CM, Stewart TE. Severe acute respiratory syndrome and critical care medicine: the Toronto experience. Crit Care Med. 2005 Jan;33(1 Suppl):S53-60. [15640680]
  4. Ketai LH, Godwin JD: A new view of pulmonary edema and acute respiratory distress syndrome. J Thorac Imaging 1998 Jul; 13(3): 147-71. [9671417]
  5. Lionetti V, Recchia FA, Ranieri VM. Overview of ventilator-induced lung injury mechanisms. Curr Opin Crit Care. 2005 Feb;11(1):82-6. [15659950]
  6. Mendez JL, Hubmayr RD. New insights into the pathology of acute respiratory failure. Curr Opin Crit Care. 2005 Feb;11(1):29-36. [15659942]
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