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.

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

Page last updated: November 17, 2022

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