Pulmonary EdemaPulmonary Edema: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Pulmonary edema is a medical condition afflicting hundreds of thousands of patients in the country. Air sacs in the lungs become filled with water, causing breathing problems in these patients. Pulmonary edema is often caused by congestive heart failure. Abnormal build up of fluids in lungs leads to shortness of breath in victims of this ailment. As heart is not able to pump blood efficiently, this blood can pump up back into the veins of lungs, creating problems for the victims. Close to a million individuals are affected by this medical condition every year across the country.

What are the causes, symptoms, and treatments or Pulmonary Edema?

The main cause of pulmonary edema is heart failure. However, it can also be caused by non cardiac reasons such as pneumonia, trauma to chest wall, visit to high altitude places, and exposure to certain medications and toxins. Duagnosis of pulmonary edema can be done with the help of X-Ray of the chest of the patient. If the doctor feels it necessary, he can also get CT-scan of the chest done to make sure that the individual is in fact suffering from pulmonary edema. Doctors also recommend blood tests to confirm the diagnosis of pulmonary edema. Blood oxygen levels tell them the whole story about the condition of the patient. Patients with a history of kidney disease may be required to undergo kidney tests also.

Sometimes, patients can become confused because of their symptoms as they overlap with the symptoms of pneumonia. It has to be understood that both these are very different ailments. Pneumonia occurs because of any complication of a respiratory infection such as fly. On the other hand, pulmonary edema is a condition where the air sacs fo the lings become filled with fluid.

The symptoms of pulmonary edema can develop over a period of time or they may appear suddenly depending upon the reason behind this ailment. Some of the common symptoms of pulmonary edema are as follows.

  • Anxiety and restlessness
  • Cough with pink frothy sputum
  • Chest pain
  • Wheezing
  • Pale skin
  • Fatigue
  • Breathlessness

Doctors commonly prescribe diuretics to patients of pulmonary edema. These medicines reduce the pressure caused by excess fluids in the lungs. They also give morphine to provide relief in symptoms of anxiety and shortness of breath. Patients are also required to take blood pressure medicines.

What is cardiogenic and noncardiogenic pulmonary edema?

In most cases of pulmonary edema, the ailment is caused by acute heart failure. However, there are also patients with non cardiac reasons behind their medical condition.

Cardiogenic pulmonary edema is a direct result of congestive heart failure. In these cases, left ventricle of the heart is not able to pump out sufficient amount of blood. This creates pressure in many parts of the circulatory system. Fluid fills up in air sacs of the lungs as well as other parts of the body.

Noncardiogenic pulmonary edema

Pulmonary edema not caused by congestive heart failure is termed as noncardiogenic pulmonary edema. In this condition, capillaries of lungs start to leak either because of acute respiratory stress syndrome, adverse drug reaction, nervous system conditions, or visit to high altitudes. This ailment can also result from exposure to certain toxins, smoke containing certain chemicals, viral infection, and pulmonary embolism.

How to prevent and diagnose High-Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE)?

High Altitude Pulmonary Edema is also becoming common these days. It can result when victims visit a high-altitude place or carry out exercises there. They start to exhibit symptoms that are similar to those shown by patients of acute pulmonary edema. This is a threatening situation where fluid accumulates in the lings of otherwise healthy individuals when they visit high altitude places (higher than 2500 meters). HAPE is regarded as a major cause of death in cases related to high altitude exposure.

The primary recommendation of experts to prevent symptoms of HAPE is gradual ascent. Climbers should not increase sleeping elevation by more than 500 meters in a day after achieving the elevation of 3000 meters. Also, they should observe a rest day after every 3-4 fays of ascent. One preventive medicine that has become very popular for this condition is nifedipine. It is a pulmonary vasodilator. Other medications that are recommended by doctors for the prevention of HAPE are Tadalafil, salmeterol, and dexamethasone.

Diagnosis of HAPE is done based on symptoms exhibited by the victim. These include increased heart rate, increased breathing rate, and low-grade fever at 38.5 degrees Celsius. Doctors also diagnose HAPE by listening to sounds produced by lungs as HAPE victims produce a crackling sound through lungs. (Pulse oximetry levels) (SpO2 levels) of HAPE patients are often decreased. However, these levels increase as soon as the patient is given oxygen.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you remove fluid from lungs?

The procedure of removing fluids form the lungs is referred to as Plural effusion. First thing that doctors do is to flush out extra fluid form the lungs. It is only after this that they decide on the course of treatment. Two of the most common methods used by doctors to get rid of extra fluid form the lungs are referred to as Pleurodesis and Decortication.

How does pulmonary edema and pleural effusion differ?

Pulmonary edema is a condition where fluid gets accumulated inside the lungs of the patient. However, Pleural effusion is a condition where thick fluid gets deposited in layers of pleura that lie outside the lungs.

What are nursing interventions for it?

Nursing care of patients suffering from pulmonary edema is as important as its diagnosis and treatment. Timely diagnosis and care by the nurse help in avoiding deaths caused by this medical condition. A nurse needs to relax the patient to encourage oxygenation inside his body. He needs to place the patient in Fowler’s position to help in expansion of lungs. He needs to administer oxygen to the patient to make sure that he can breathe properly. The nurse also needs to give medications prescribed by the doctor in a timely manner.

Why does Salbutamol cause pulmonary edema?

Pulmonary edema can be caused by many reasons. The result is that fluid crosses the pulmonary artery into the lungs. Salbutamol is a medication that is prescribed in many ailments by doctors. This drug is capable of stimulating beta 11 receptors within the lungs. This means bronchial dilation is a possibility because of which fluid can easily flow inside the lungs.

What are the complications of this disease?

There are many symptoms of pulmonary edema such as shortness of breath, coughing, fatigue, wheezing, swelling of feet and legs, rapid weight gain, difficulty breathing when lying flat, and excessive sweating. Pulmonary edema can be life threatening when the symptoms persist, and the patient does not get medical help immediately. Filling up of lungs with fluid can cause impaired gas exchange that can lead to respiratory failure.

If you are experiencing symptoms of pulmonary edema, it is very important for you to see a qualified and experienced pulmonary expert. Hunterdon Pulmonary & Sleep Center is the leading center for pulmonary diseases and their treatment in the whole of New Jersey. Call at 908-237-1560 or send your message at info@hunterdonpulmonaryandsleep.com to fix an appointment with one of our highly qualified and experienced pulmonary specialists. You can also email us to get a prompt reply to your message. Our doctors will carry out a correct diagnosis based upon your symptoms to design and implement the right course of treatment.