As an ARDS survivor, if we get flu or CoVID, is it more likely to result in ARDS?  

Question asked by Christine A. on September 10, 2020:

doctor with patient

Doctors’ Responses:

We do not believe that prior acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) means that a survivor is more likely to get ARDS from influenza or COVID-19.  Also, there is no reason to think that the chances of survival under these circumstances for an ARDS survivor would be reduced.

However, there are issues that need to be considered.

First, what were the circumstances behind the occurrence of ARDS? If a patient was immunosuppressed (perhaps because of an inherited immune deficiency or because of taking steroids for something like systemic lupus), then it will be more likely that contracting flu or COVID would lead to a second occurrence of ARDS.

Second, was there any permanent damage to the lungs from ARDS? Most patients recover most if not all of their pre-ARDS lung function. If so, then the likelihood of getting ARDS a second time is small. But if there was significant scarring in the lungs and loss of lung function, then a patient is more vulnerable to a second occurrence of ARDS.

Of course, If the patient gets influenza or COVID-19, or exhibit symptoms of either or both, contact your own internist and/or pulmonologist about your condition.  If you find yourself in medical distress, contact 911, or go to the emergency room immediately to be evaluated and treated.

In addition, it is highly recommended that all ARDS survivors get a flu shot unless the patient was told otherwise by their own medical professional.

Roy Brower, MD
Professor of Medicine
Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Michael A. Matthay, M.D.
Professor, Medicine & Anesthesia
Associate Director, Intensive Care Unit
University of California, San Francisco


ARDS Foundation invites those in the ARDS Community to ask general questions related to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), the complications that surround ARDS, as well as issues that occur as a result of Post Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS).

Each month a specialist will address issues of concern surrounding the question. Periodically, a specialist may recap current research related to ARDS.


Disclaimer: The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


By | 2020-10-02T17:07:28-05:00 September 10th, 2020|Ask The Doctor|Comments Off on As an ARDS survivor, if we get flu or CoVID, is it more likely to result in ARDS?