Islamabad:The healthcare facilities in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi have been receiving a huge number of patients with serious respiratory tract infections including influenza, pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) that may prove to be deadly.

Pneumonia and ARDS are more fatal forms of respiratory tract infections that claim a good number of lives every year in the region and according to many health experts, it is so because majority of our population do not take measures to avoid these.

Studies reveal that severe flu and pneumonia leading to ARDS is much fatal. One out of three patients suffering from ARDS dies of the disease even if admitted to the well-equipped hospital. The untreated patients may not survive.

Data collected by ‘The News’ has revealed that in public sector hospitals of the twin cities, the ARDS claims well over 200 lives every year in the months of December and January.

Studies reveal that ARDS occurs when the lungs become inflamed due to some infection and it causes fluid from nearby blood vessels to leak into the tiny air sacs in the lungs making breathing extremely difficult. In case of ARDS, less oxygen reaches the bloodstream that deprives the organs of the oxygen, they need to function. The lungs can become inflamed after pneumonia and severe flu apart from other infections and medical conditions.

There are many other causes of ARDS like severe infections, sepsis, pancreatitis, burns etc., but respiratory infections are the most common in winter. The ARDS initially starts with lungs failure but involves other organs including heart, liver, kidneys and brain by doing hypoxic ischemic damage in all body.

Experts say that breathing in harmful substances including dense smoke and chemical fumes triggers ARDS. The number of patients being presented to the healthcare facilities in the region with pneumonia and ARDS is continuously on the rise as the respiratory tract infections have already taken shape of an outbreak.

Health experts say that around 20 to 30 per cent of the patients suffering from serious complaints of respiratory tract infections like pneumonia and ARDS may need ventilator support while 70 per cent may get cure after hospitalisation.

Experts advise that the patients with cough, fever, lethargy and thick viscid sputum for over three days should undergo a chest X RAY to avoid complications of the infection. The most fatal and dangerous complication of pneumonia is ARDS, a condition that develops rapidly in which patient with chest infection can not maintain oxygenation level due to lungs’ dysfunction. The accumulation of fluid and secretions in airspaces impair the transfer of oxygen to blood.

Majority of patients of ARDS reported every year in winter are the ones having flu, pneumonia, chest infections and other such ailments. Studies reveal that the ARDS patient has severe air hunger and suffocation that abruptly starts within few hours and progress rapidly.

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