First Time User? Enroll now.
As the COVID-19 situation has evolved, our visitor policy is evolving as well. Get full details.
For the most current information, please visit our Coronavirus resource pages.
Home > Health Library > Acute respiratory distress syndrome
Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is an emergency situation in which fluid buildup in the lungs causes breathing failure. Acute respiratory distress syndrome occurs most often in people who are being treated for another serious illness or injury, including infections, trauma, and exposure to toxic chemicals.
Acute respiratory distress syndrome, which is also called adult respiratory distress syndrome, develops rapidly. Symptoms of acute respiratory distress syndrome include shortness of breath and rapid breathing. Blood tests will show low amounts of oxygen in the blood (hypoxia). Admission to the intensive care unit (ICU) is usually needed when a person has respiratory failure.
Current as of: July 6, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.