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What Are Symptoms of ARDS?

Patients with ARDS are short of breath, often to a distressing level. They are breathing faster and their heart is beating faster. They may have pain as they try to take a breath. As the oxygen in the blood falls, their fingernails and lips may have a bluish color.

How Is ARDS Diagnosed?

When patients present with the above symptoms, doctors will do a chest X-ray to look for fluid in the lungs and a blood test to find out the severity of the oxygen starvation. ARDS has to be separated from heart failure and chronic lung disease. Doctors suspect ARDS if they can identify a lung injury. If you have heart disease or chronic lung disease, this may be more difficult because ARDS and heart problems have similar symptoms.

Reviewed and approved by the American Lung Association Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel.

Page last updated: March 24, 2020

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