Pulmonary edema is a medical condition in which lungs of an individual get filled with fluids. It is mostly a result of congestive heart failure, but it can also result from noncardiogenic reasons. Pulmonary edema, if it is not diagnosed and treated correctly, can prove fatal for the victim. There are many symptoms of pulmonary edema such as chest pain, coughing, wheezing, fatigue, restlessness, anxiety, and swelling in feet and other parts of the body. While it is necessary to get help of a medical expert, it is very important to know how to treat pulmonary edema at home.
What are the causes, symptoms, and diagnosis of pulmonary edema?
As mentioned earlier, the main cause of pulmonary edema is congestive heart failure. Heart is not able to pump blood with optimal efficiency; it can back up into the veins that carry blood into the lungs. As pressure in the blood vessels increases, fluids are pushed into the air sacs of the lungs of the individual.
There are other reasons behind pulmonary edema such as pneumonia, visit to places at a very high altitude, and exposure to certain toxins and medications.
Many symptoms are exhibited by a patient of pulmonary edema. These include coughing, wheezing, breathlessness, shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, sweating, and drop in blood pressure, weakness, and dizziness.
Diagnosis of pulmonary edema is done based on symptoms shown by the patient of this medical condition. Doctor asks about the medical history of the patient to know whether he has suffered from any lung disease or cardiovascular disease in the past or not.
A chest X-ray, ECG, and physical examination are enough to reveal the severity of the disease in any patient. Some of the tests that are carried out to determine whether lings have accumulated fluid are as follows.
- Chest X-ray
- Pulse oximetry
- Blood tests
- Cardio Catheterization
Is pulmonary edema treatable and fatal?
There can be no doubt that a serious attack of pulmonary edema can be fatal for the individual. However, the condition of most patients improves if they are diagnosed early and their treatment starts. Treatment of course, depends upon the severity of symptoms and the reason behind the condition. Pulmonary edema can be very debilitating for the victim as it is associated with shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, fatigue, anxiety, dizziness, and swelling in legs and other body parts. It is seen that when a victim of pulmonary edema is given supplemental oxygen, his condition improves, and symptoms begin to subside. What is important for a patient of pulmonary edema is to get medical help as soon as he experiences symptoms of this disease.
How to treat pulmonary edema at home?
Pulmonary edema is a medical condition that can unsettle even those who are brave and courageous. Knowing that your lungs have become filled with fluids can be very unnerving for the victim besides creating many difficulties in the form of symptoms of this disease. If the symptoms are severe, it is prudent to get immediate medical attention. In serious cases, doctors perform surgery called Thoracentesis in which a needle is inserted between the chest wall and the lungs to get rid of excess water from the lungs.
Pulmonary edema makes breathing for the patient difficult as air sacs of his lungs become filled with fluids. Even though it is crucial to get medical treatment from a qualified doctor, a patient can control this disease and even improve his condition with the help of some home remedies.
In addition to the treatment prescribed by your doctor, you can make some lifestyle changes to improve your condition when suffering from pulmonary edema.
Take a healthy and balanced diet
You must consult a doctor or a dietician to know what kind of diet is good for you when suffering from pulmonary edema. Although this diet will differ from one patient to another depending upon his body and severity of the problem, here are some important things to include in your daily diet
- Fresh fruits and green vegetables
- Lean protein found in eggs, chicken, fish, nuts, legumes, and tofu
- Sources of vitamin D such as eggs, fish, meat, orange juice, milk, and fortified cereal
- Sources of potassium and magnesium such as leafy vegetables, bananas, seeds, and apricots
Decrease the intake of sodium
Higher quantities of salt in your body can make your body retail more fluids. This will worsen the symptoms of pulmonary edema. If your doctor feels your intake of salt is worsening the situation of pulmonary edema in your case, he can recommend reducing your sodium intake.
- Use alternatives of salt in your food such as pepper, garlic, lemon juice, and other herbs and spices
- Try to avoid all kinds of processed foods
- Eat food items that are low in sodium or salt
- You can use low salt options such as salt products that are low on sodium and high on potassium.
Give up on smoking with immediate effect as it can worsen the condition of pulmonary edema. You also need to avoid second-hand smoke to prevent flaring up of your symptoms. Avoid allergens present in the environment as they can irritate your lungs. If possible, do not move out on days when it is too cold or too hot as it can irritate your lungs. Make sure you do not travel to places of very high altitudes if your pulmonary edema is HAPE.
Avoid consuming alcohol and all other types of recreational drugs
Alcohol and recreational drugs like marijuana, cocaine, and heroine can not only cause pulmonary edema but also worsen its symptoms. If you have been diagnosed with pulmonary edema, you must give up on all these substances.
Reduce frequency of physical activities
Strenuous physical activity is known to aggravate the symptoms of pulmonary edema. If you have to take part in physical activities all day long, make sure that you get short breaks after every hour to give rest to your respiratory system. If you are suffering from pulmonary edema, it is important for you to know what kind of physical activities you need to avoid or reduce in your daily life.
Frequently Asked Questions
In how much time will lungs fill with water due to pulmonary edema?
Victims of pulmonary edema find that air sacs in the lungs get filled with fluid very rapidly. This can take place in a matter of minutes or hours depending upon the physical condition of the victim. It is important to note that when air sacs become full of water, oxygen cannot enter lungs and the blood stream, thereby making breathing difficult for the individual. He will start to suffer from breathlessness and shortness of breath. This is when it is important to consult a doctor to get treatment for pulmonary edema. However, filling of water in lungs is not the same as filling of water in a bucket as there are many factors involved with the medical condition known as pulmonary edema.
How does it feel to have pulmonary edema?
Pulmonary edema is a condition where the lungs of the individual become filled with fluids. In such a situation, lungs are not able to pump oxygen back into the blood, thereby creating breathlessness and shortness of breath. Patients of pulmonary edema say they feel suffocated as they cannot breathe normally during an attack of this medical condition. Some of them sweat profusely while others find swelling of their feet and other body parts. They also experience dizziness and fatigue when suffering from pulmonary edema. Many experiences severe coughing with pink, frothy sputum. Chest pain is another symptom of pulmonary edema that has been reported by many patients. If you are feeling difficulty in breathing normally even when lying flat on your back it is time to consult a qualified and experienced doctor to check if you are suffering from pulmonary edema or not.
How does a pulmonary edema and pleural effusion differ?
Pulmonary edema, also referred to as wet lungs, is a medical condition where air sacs of lungs get filled with fluids. It is important to remember that water collects in the alveoli inside the lungs in the case of pulmonary edema. On the other hand, pleural effusion is a medical condition where water gets collected in pleura that lie outside the lungs. It is referred to as water on the lungs. Pleural effusion describes swelling of joints whereas pulmonary edema describes swelling of tissues caused by congestive heart failure, allergy, or pneumonia.
Can fluid in the lungs go away on its own?
Water on the lungs can go away on itself with rest and without any medication. Pleurisy that is a result of bronchitis or any other viral infection cures itself through rest in 1-2 weeks. However, if there is water inside the lungs, it will not go away on itself and it requires surgery and medication prescribed by the doctor. Pulmonary edema makes breathing difficult and one needs to consult a qualified pulmonary expert as soon as possible whenever he experiences symptoms of this medical condition.
What are the signs of fluid in your lungs?
If you fear you are suffering from pulmonary edema, it is important to know its symptoms. Different patients report different symptoms of this medical condition in which air sacs of lungs get filled with water. However, there are some common symptoms shared by most of the victims of pulmonary edema. The biggest sign of pulmonary edema is having difficulty in breathing even when the person is lying flat on his back.
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Coughing with pink frothy sputum
- Difficulty in breathing
Pulmonary edema is a disease that can prove fatal if the condition of the patient worsens and he is not properly diagnosed and treated by a qualified doctor. Hunterdon Pulmonary & Sleep Center is the leading center for the diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary and respiratory ailments in the whole of New Jersey. We have highly experienced and qualified pulmonary experts who can provide relief from the symptoms of this debilitating medical condition. They can also provide the right treatment to the patient depending upon his condition and severity of symptoms. Call at 908-237-1560 or email at email@example.com to book an appointment with one of our qualified doctors. Do not worry as we have tons of experience in dealing with pulmonary edema, a condition in which air sacs of lungs get filled with fluids.