Pulmonary edema: Introduction
Pulmonary edema is a condition in which there is an accumulation of fluid in the lungs, which makes it difficult or even impossible to breathe effectively. Acute pulmonary edema is a form of pulmonary edema that occurs suddenly, is a life-threatening emergency, and can be rapidly fatal if not treated immediately.
In most cases, pulmonary edema is due to heart failure, a condition in which the heart muscle has been damaged and is too weak to pump sufficient amounts of oxygen-rich blood to and from the lungs and the rest of the body. This increases blood pressure in the lungs and leads to a back-up and build-up of fluid in the lungs.
Less commonly, pulmonary edema can result from acute mountain sickness, a condition brought on by the lower air pressure and reduced oxygen levels that occur at high altitudes. Pulmonary edema can also occur due to pneumonia and in infants who are given too much fluid, especially too much fluid given intravenously in a medical setting.
People at risk for developing pulmonary edema include infants receiving intravenous fluids and anyone with acute mountain sickness. The biggest group of high-risk individuals include anyone who has heart failure. Heart failure is a common complication of heart diseases that can damage the heart muscle. These include heart attack, hypertension, heart valve disorders, arrhythmias, and cardiomyopathy.
Any disease or condition that increases the risk of developing heart disease also increases the risk of eventually developing heart failure and pulmonary edema as a complication. These risks include having diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle. Other risk factors include being male, of African-American ancestry, and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. Having a lot of long-term stress, smoking and having a family history of heart disease or cardiovascular disease are also risk factors.
Symptoms of pulmonary edema include shortness of breath, chest pain, a wet cough, and low oxygen levels in the blood. Pulmonary edema, especially acute pulmonary edema, can lead to serious complications, such as respiratory failure. Acute pulmonary edema can be rapidly fatal if not treated quickly. For more information on symptoms and complications, refer to symptoms of pulmonary edema.
Making a diagnosis of pulmonary edema includes a complete medical evaluation, medical history, and physical examination. This is often done in an emergency room for acute pulmonary edema. The physical exam includes listening to the sounds of the heart and the lungs with a stethoscope. Certain sounds, such as a crackling or bubbling sound in the lungs, indicate congestion in the lungs and point to a diagnosis of pulmonary edema.
A chest X-ray is generally performed to see the size and shape of the heart and can reveal lung congestion, pulmonary edema, and other conditions, such as pneumonia. Other tests may include an imaging test called an echocardiogram. An echocardiogram uses sound waves to make a picture of the beating heart to determine how much blood the heart is able to pump.
Other testing may be done to rule-out or diagnose underlying causes of pulmonary edema. For example, testing generally includes an EKG, which takes a picture of the electrical activity of the heart and can reveal abnormalities in the rhythm of the heart and heart damage due to heart attack and some other forms of heart disease.
It is possible that a diagnosis of pulmonary edema can be missed or delayed because in some cases the symptoms may develop gradually and be mild. Symptoms can also be similar to symptoms of other conditions. For more information about misdiagnosis and diseases and conditions that can mimic pulmonary edema, refer to misdiagnosis of pulmonary edema.
Treatment of pulmonary edema begins with prevention of heart disease, heart failure, and other risk factors. When symptoms occur, pulmonary edema is treated with oxygen therapy and medications. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of pulmonary edema. ...more »
Pulmonary edema: Severe condition of excess fluid in the lungs.
More detailed information about the symptoms,
causes, and treatments of Pulmonary edema is available below.
Pulmonary edema: Symptoms
Symptoms of pulmonary edema can vary in nature and intensity depending on the underlying cause and severity of the disease.
The primary symptom of pulmonary edema is extreme shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. This generally begins during exercise or exertion, but as pulmonary edema progresses, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing can occur at rest as well. When lying ...more symptoms »
Pulmonary edema: Treatments
Pulmonary edema is often treatable if diagnosed before serious complications occur. However, prognosis varies depending on the underlying cause or disease, age, general health, and coexisting diseases, such as diabetes, heart failure, and pneumonia. The most effective heart failure treatment plans employ a multifaceted approach.
This includes ...more treatments »
Pulmonary edema: Misdiagnosis
A diagnosis of pulmonary edema may be overlooked or delayed because symptoms can develop gradually in some cases. This allows a person to physically adapt to them. In addition, some symptoms can be vague and not specific to pulmonary edema. These include weakness, fatigue, confusion, anxiety and dizziness. These types of symptoms may be attributed to other conditions, such as ...more misdiagnosis »
Symptoms of Pulmonary edema
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symptoms of Pulmonary edema
Treatments for Pulmonary edema
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treatments for Pulmonary edema
Home Diagnostic Testing
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Pulmonary edema: Related Patient Stories
Pulmonary edema: Deaths
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Types of Pulmonary edema
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Diagnostic Tests for Pulmonary edema
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Pulmonary edema: Complications
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Causes of Pulmonary edema
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causes of Pulmonary edema
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Pulmonary edema: Undiagnosed Conditions
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Misdiagnosis and Pulmonary edema
Heart attacks can be undiagnosed: Although the most severe symptoms of heart attack are hard to miss,
there are varying degrees of severity.
It is altogether too common for...read more »
Heart attacks can be overdiagnosed: Although many people die from heart attacks, there are also
many cases where people fear that they have a heart attack, but actually have something milder.
Some of the...read more »
Rare heart condition often undiagnosed: The rare heart condition called long QT syndrome can lead to episodes of palpitations
and rapid heartbeat.
In...read more »
Heart attack can be over-diagnosed: Although heart attack is often undiagnosed,
leading to fatality, it can also be over-diagnosed.
People become concerned that a condition is a heart attack,
whereas there are various less dangerous...read more »
Blood pressure cuffs misdiagnose hypertension in children: One known misdiagnosis issue
with hyperension, arises in relation to the simple equipment used to test blood pressure...read more »
Hypertension misdiagnosis common in children: Hypertension is often
misdiagnosed in adults (see misdiagnosis of hypertension), but its misdiagnosis is even more likely in children.
Some of the symptoms of...read more »
Chronic lung diseases hard to diagnose: Some of the chronic lung diseases
are difficult to diagnose.
Even the well-knowns conditions such as asthma or lung cancer often fail to...read more »
Read more about Misdiagnosis and Pulmonary edema
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and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.
Some of the clinical trials listed on ClinicalTrials.gov for Pulmonary edema include:
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Clinical Trials for Pulmonary edema
Statistics for Pulmonary edema
Pulmonary edema: Broader Related Topics
Types of Pulmonary edema
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Definitions of Pulmonary edema:
Extravascular accumulation of fluid in the pulmonary tissue and air spaces.
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