Pulmonary edema is fluid in your lungs swelling. This abnormal build up impedes health promoting oxygen to get from your lungs to bloodstream. This situation consequently causes “difficulty breathing” respiratory distress.
Most often pulmonary edema is caused by heart failure. And thus termed cardiac pulmonary edema.
However, pulmonary edema may also have causes not related to your heart. This type of lung edema is cited as acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) or noncardiogenic pulmonary edema.
Pulmonary edema can cause you to experience extreme respiratory distress, delivering symptoms like:
- pale skin
- air hunger
- nasal flaring
- drowning feeling
- speaking inability
- difficulty breathing
- shortness of breath
- excessive sweating
- labored, rapid breathing
- short of breath lying down
- grunting, gurgling breathing
- decreased level of awareness
Cardiac pulmonary edema usually occurs when the pumping action of your heart, left ventricle in particular, weakens and is unable to pump enough oxygenated blood out. As a result, blood backs up into your lungs, causing fluid to be pushed into your air sacs.
Conditions producing this form of pulmonary edema include:
- coronary artery disease
- heart valve problems ~ mitral valve disease, aortic valve disease
- hypertension ~ thickens left ventricle muscle, accelerates coronary artery disease
As previously stated, not all pulmonary edema results from heart disease. Fluid in lungs may accumulate even without back pressure from your heart.
Noncardiogenic pulmonary edema or acute respiratory distress syndrome also hinders oxygen from getting into your blood. Some common causes of ARDS include:
- lung trauma
- high altitude
- kidney disease
- lung infections
- smoke inhalation
- inhaling chemicals
- certain toxins ~ chlorine, ammonia, nitrogen dioxide
- adverse drug reaction ~ heroin, diabetes medications, chemotherapy drugs
Pulmonary edema symptoms usually develop within a day or two of the original injury or illness, and many with ARDS are too sick to complain.
Pulmonary edema can be life threatening, so don’t hesitate to get with a health care professional. The sooner the discovery and treatment of your “fluid in lungs” edema genesis, the better.
If you have a disease that can lead to pulmonary edema, following a healthy, low salt diet can significantly decrease your risk for experiencing a ”difficulty breathing respiratory distress” episode.