How are the underlying causes of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) managed?

Updated: Mar 27, 2020
  • Author: Eloise M Harman, MD; Chief Editor: Michael R Pinsky, MD, CM, Dr(HC), FCCP, FAPS, MCCM  more...
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Although no specific therapy exists for ARDS, treatment of the underlying condition is essential, along with supportive care, noninvasive ventilation or mechanical ventilation using low tidal volumes, and conservative fluid management. Because infection is often the underlying cause of ARDS, early administration of appropriate antibiotic therapy broad enough to cover suspected pathogens is essential, along with careful assessment of the patient to determine potential infection sources. In some instances, removal of intravascular lines, drainage of infected fluid collections, or surgical debridement or resection of an infected site (eg, the ischemic bowel) may be necessary because sepsis-associated ARDS does not resolve without such management. In addition, preventing complications associated with prolonged mechanical ventilation and ICU stay can include deep venous thrombosis (DVT) prophylaxis, stress ulcer prophylaxis, early mobilization, minimizing sedation, turning and skin care, and strategies to prevent ventilator-induced pneumonia, such as elevation of the head of the bed and use of a subglottic suction device.

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