Complete Recovery After of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) May be Rare

by Dr. Nithin Jayan on  April 19, 2011 at 6:19 PM Health Watch
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Survivors of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) remain physically and emotionally weak even five years after recovering, says new study.  Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a life-threatening lung condition in which sufficient oxygen does not enter blood. In a recent study it was shown that despite the fact that their lungs heal almost completely, survivors did not regain the physical or psychological health. The results of this Canadian research were published in the New England Journal of Medicine, a leading medical journal.  Generally the ARDS patients are always one of the most  sick that one  encounters in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of a hospital.
Complete Recovery After of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS)  May be Rare
Complete Recovery After of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) May be Rare

109 ARDS patients were followed up in the study. The participants of the study were of average age group of 44 and were those who received prolonged treatment in the intensive care unit. Survivors of ARDS were found to suffer:

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·        Exercise limitation

·        Physical and psychological sequelae

·        Decreased physical quality of life

·        Increased costs and use of health care services

This severe form of lung inflammation lead to average ICU stays of about four weeks and several months of inpatient treatment. The lungs healed well with time, but disabilities stayed. Disability from muscle and nerve damage, stiff joints, scarring from breathing tubes and post-traumatic stress disorder were part of the aftermath.

Pulmonary function was found to be normal or nearly normal in all patients five years after their illness. However, many were reported to carry diagnoses of depression, anxiety or both. Transition to a normal life style appeared to be herculean.

The new findings are of great significance since they highlight the need to redefine ICU care. It would be wiser to boost physical rehabilitation of ARDS patients by getting them out of bed earlier. The use of alternate drugs that cause less damage to nerves and muscles should be used. Treatment cost is another problem that need to be addressed. Working out a better strategy is the need of the hour. 

Source: New England Journal of Medicine

Source: Medindia

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I am a 39 [40 in a few weeks] male, had ARDS in March/April of 2010, spent about 12 days in a coma on a oscillating vent, and another two weeks in the hospital (ICU 1 week, step-down ICU the last week), went right home and had in-home rehab, then to a physical therpy place a couple times a week. By October I was feeling great, back to myself. I feel 100% in shape, no problems at all. Back to firefighting/EMS, and being very active. So, it's not all bad!

I survived ARDS in 2000, and 10.5 years later I continue to struggle with my health. I've had varying levels of energy through the years, but I've had a difficult time with weight loss and exercise. I'm constantly going on steroids for asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia. I have severe sleep apnea. I've suffered from depression as well, and still have nightmares and flashbacks of my ICU psychosis. If you'd like to read more about my experience, I've recently posted it on my blog.


Jan 1/11 marked my 8th post ARDS birthday and I still suffer from a relentless form of chronic pain that cannot be explained and I've been following other victims of ARDS and they too suffer similar pain disorders, for example, 5 -8 days/month I feel a bruised head sensation for no reason, I can barely comb my hair; I have trouble climbing stairs and although I lost 65 lbs hoping it would improve it has not. This trauma caused me to have fibromyalgia, but it doesn't explain all the pain and I believe someone should catalogue these post ARDS pains, I believe there is a Post ARDS pain syndrome and if studied, perhaps treatment for us could help lower the health costs and increase our dignity. Thank you, Monique Levesque


I have weakness and spacicity and have found out I have brain lesions I was wondering if you have had an mri..trying to find someone with a similar experience.

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