How you can recognize the signs of acute respiratory distress in Kingston, New York

What is acute respiratory distress?

Respiratory distress is outwardly evident, physically labored breathing.  For persons over 12 years old, a normal respiratory rate is between 12 and 20 breaths per minute and an abnormal respiratory rate is above 20 breaths per minute. Acute respiratory distress is also known as ARDS.

The symptoms of respiratory distress can include severe difficulty breathing, noisy breathing, abnormal lung sounds (wheezes), rapid breathing, cyanosis, rapid heart rate and congested lungs during examination.

Why acute respiratory distress can be dangerous?

When you hyperventilate, the level of carbon dioxide in your blood is reduced, causing a condition known as respiratory alkalosis.  When the pH level of your blood exceeds 7.45, you have respiratory alkalosis; the opposite condition is acidosis (excessive levels of acid in your blood).

Low carbon dioxide levels in your blood cause the brain's blood vessels to constrict (vasoconstriction), resulting in reduced blood flow to the brain and lightheadedness.  The constriction of the blood vessels which supply the brain can cause brain damage, if untreated.

How can you detect respiratory distress?

Although acute respiratory distress (ARDS) is usually diagnosed based upon your clinical presentation, i.e., your symptoms, there are a number of tests that can help make the diagnosis.

Arterial blood gas studies often show the respiratory alkalosis (pH level exceeds 7.45).  Other tests for respiratory distress include a pulse oximeter that measures the oxgen saturation of your blood and a chest x-ray or CT scan of the chest.  Acute respiratory distress syndrome is defined by the presence of infiltrates in the lungs and infiltrates (abnormal fluid collections in the lungs) can be seen on a chest x-ray.

You should also ask for a consultation with a physician specializing in pulmonary medicine or critical care.

What can be done to treat respiratory distress?

The treatment of acute respiratory distress includes mechanical ventilation and sedation.  Mechanical ventilation (ventilator) maintains oxygenation to your brain and sedation is important in most patients on ventilators.

If you, or a family member, are being treated for respiratory distress, you should be treated by a pulmonologist or an intensivist and the appropriate treatment consists of mechanical ventilation and sedation.

If you have questions about acute respiratory distress, here's what you can do

I  welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell phone at 1-866-889-6882 if you have any questions or want more information.  You can also drop me an e-mail at [email protected] .  If you visit the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com, you are welcome to request a FREE copy of my book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims.