Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a life-threatening condition. When a person develops ARDS, their lungs are no longer able to supply their body with adequate amounts of oxygen. The alveoli -- air sacs -- fill up with fluid. Most people who get ARDS already have a serious underlying health condition that causes these respiratory difficulties. For this reason, ARDS most common in people previously hospitalized, though this is not always the case.
Symptoms vary according to the underlying cause. Most people with ARDS will experience severe shortness of breath, and their breathing may be faster than usual or very shallow, or they may struggle to breathe. The decreased level of oxygen in the blood may cause sleepiness, confusion, and disorientation. Individuals may also have abnormally low blood pressure, and ARDS can cause feelings of dizziness or faintness.
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