Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) is a sudden respiratory failure due to fluid accumulation and severe inflammation in the lungs. ARDS is a life-threatening problem, with very high mortality rates. This condition is also medically referred to as shock lung, as it occurs following a trauma leading to a state of shock. ARDS is indicative of an underlying medical condition, usually an injury due to which blood, fluid and tissue cross over into the air cells in the lungs (alveoli), causing them to collapse. Once the alveoli are compromised, breathing becomes labored, and eventually impossible if not treated immediately.
Acute respiratory distress syndrome can occur in a number of conditions and with varying symptoms, depending upon the underlying cause.