Pulmonary edema is the accumulation of fluid in the lungs which leads to significant shortness of breath. It most commonly occurs as a result of several cardiac disorders, including heart attack and/or heart valve disease.
Pulmonary edema develops as a result of heart failure. Pulmonary veins return blood mixed with oxygen from the lungs to the heart to be distributed to the rest of the body. Under the conditions of heart failure or vascular disease fluid can “back up” in these preliminary veins. As pressure builds up in these veins, fluid is forced into the air spaces of the lungs, which affects the lungs’ ability to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide. This is the result of shortness of breath.
Symptoms of pulmonary edema include:
• Pale skin
• Difficulty breathing
• Wheezing or coughing
If pulmonary edema is brought on suddenly, it’s considered a medical emergency. Treatment consists of first identifying the underlying cause of the pulmonary edema, such as heart failure, and then the prevention of further incidents.
Treatment options and medication vary based on the severity of the illness. If you’re suffering from symptoms of pulmonary edema, seek the advice of your doctor immediately to start a treatment regimen.