Pulmonary Edema

What is pulmonary edema?

A condition caused by excessive fluid in the lungs is called pulmonary edema. When the fluid fills the air sacs in the lungs, the patient will feel it difficult to breathe. In most cases, the main cause of pulmonary edema is heart problems. However, other reasons like pneumonia, exposure to certain medications, exercising or trauma to the chest wall can also cause fluid accumulation.

What are the symptoms of pulmonary edema?

Symptoms mat appear all of a sudden or slowly over time. It depends on the cause. The sudden symptoms of pulmonary edema may include:

  • Breathing difficulties that may worsen when lying down.

  • A drowning or suffocating feeling.

  • Rough breathing.

  • A sense of apprehension, restlessness or anxiety

  • Bloody sputum in blood, when coughing

  • Chest pain may be there if the pulmonary edema is caused due to heart disease

  • Palpations or irregular heartbeat

Long-term or chronic pulmonary edema may have the following symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath when the patient is physically active.

  • Breathing difficulties when working hard

  • Gasp

  • Breathing difficulties when lying in a flat position.

  • Breathlessness, that may interrupt the sleep.

  • Pulmonary edema caused by heart failure may cause rapid weight gain.

  • Swelling in the areas of lower extremities.

  • Weakness.

What are the causes of pulmonary edema?

Pulmonary edema can be caused by various factors. The cause may vary according to different types of pulmonary edema.

  • Cardiogenic/heart-related pulmonary edema: When the pulmonary edema is caused by an increased pressure in the heart is called cardiogenic pulmonary edema.

  • Non-cardiogenic/non-heart-related pulmonary edema: When the pulmonary edema is not caused by increased pressure in the heart is called non-cardiogenic pulmonary edema.

What are the treatment options for pulmonary edema?

The first step for treating pulmonary edema is giving oxygen. A face mask or nasal cannula is used for giving oxygen. It will help in reducing some of the symptoms of pulmonary edema. Other treatment options may vary according to the cause. Pulmonary edema may be treated with medications. If the condition is caused by another condition like a nervous system condition, the choice of treatment will target the condition that cause pulmonary edema.