Pulmonary edema is a condition characterized by symptoms of difficulty breathing due to fluid buildup in the pockets of the lungs is more commonly suffered by the elderly. Know Pulmonary Edema: Symptoms, Type, Causes and How to Treatment.
Can pulmonary edema be cured?
Pulmonary edema can occur suddenly which is a medical emergency and requires immediate treatment. Pulmonary edema can be fatal, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be treated. If detected early and treated with proper treatment, the condition may improve.
Is pulmonary edema disease dangerous and contagious?
Acute pulmonary edema that does not get immediate treatment can lead to death. But you need to know that the condition of fluid buildup in the lungs is not contagious.
One of the infectious lung diseases is pneumonia, know-how pneumonia contagious in adults and how long is pneumonia contagious.
Risk Factors for Pulmonary Edema
Some factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing pulmonary edema are:
- Have heart problems or heart failure
- Have had pulmonary edema before
- Have lung diseases, such as tuberculosis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
- Have vascular disorders
Symptoms of Pulmonary Edema
A common symptom of pulmonary edema is difficulty breathing. However, other symptoms may vary slightly in each person depending on the type of pulmonary edema suffered.
In acute edema, symptoms include:
- Sudden shortness of breath, especially when lying down or after doing activities
- Feel like drowning or heart palpitations
- Difficulty breathing with a lot of sweating
- Emit unusual breathing sounds, such as the sound of rough breathing, wheezing, or panting
- Foaming cough and mixed with blood
- Cold, moist skin or pale and bluish appearance
- Rapid and irregular heartbeat (palpitations)
- Feeling dizzy, limp, or sweating
While in chronic pulmonary edema, symptoms that may be experienced include:
- Become more tired
- Weight gain quickly
- Breathing becomes heavier than usual, especially when on the move and lying down
- Swelling of both limbs
- Often wakes up at night due to tightness
High-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) can occur when sufferers travel or exercise at very high altitudes. Signs and symptoms that may appear include:
- Shortness of breath after activity
- The dry cough continues to be a frothy, blood-mixed phlegm cough
- Difficulty walking uphill, which continues to be difficulty walking on a flat surface
- Chest pain
- Rapid heartbeat
Types of pulmonary edema and its causes
The causes of pulmonary edema are categorized into 2 groups, namely pulmonary edema associated with heart disorders (cardiogenic pulmonary edema) and pulmonary edema that occurs without heart disorders (noncardiogenic pulmonary edema).
Normally, the heart pumps blood throughout the body from a part of the heart called the left ventricle. The blood pumped from the left ventricle comes from the lungs containing oxygen.
Pulmonary edema caused by heart problems generally occurs because the left ventricle is unable to pump blood out of the heart to the maximum. As a result, blood is still left in the left ventricle and causes increased pressure.
Increased pressure in the left ventricle will make it harder for blood from the lungs to enter the heart, so blood will stem in the blood vessels of the lungs. If the pressure in the blood vessels of the lungs is too high, some fluid from the blood vessels will be pushed out and into the alveoli.
The following are some heart disorders that can cause pulmonary edema:
- Coronary heart disease
- Heart valve disease
Meanwhile, non-cardiogenic pulmonary edema can be caused by a variety of conditions, including:
- Acute respiratory distress syndrome
- Viral infections, including COVID-19
- Pulmonary embolism
- Lung injury
- Located at altitude (above 2,400 meters above sea level)
- Head injury or seizures
- Complications of brain surgery
- Inhaling smoke during a fire
- Exposure to toxins, such as ammonia and chlorine
- Reactions to several medications, including aspirin
When to see a doctor
See a doctor immediately if you experience symptoms of acute pulmonary edema, HAPE pulmonary edema, or chronic pulmonary edema as mentioned above.
Don’t drive yourself to the hospital. It’s a good idea to call an ambulance or medic for help.
If you see someone having an acute bout of pulmonary edema, take it to the hospital immediately or call an ambulance. Tell the doctor the symptoms experienced by the patient so that the doctor can provide the right help.
Regular check-ups may be recommended if you are at high risk of pulmonary edema, to prevent severe conditions.
Pulmonary Edema Diagnosis
To diagnose pulmonary edema, the doctor will ask some questions about the symptoms and medical history of the patient, especially if the patient has had heart or lung disease.
Next, the doctor will perform a physical examination of the heartbeat and sound of the lungs using a stethoscope. If needed, the doctor may also perform some supporting examinations, such as:
- Pulse oximetry, to quickly measure oxygen levels in the blood, by placing sensors on the fingers or feet.
- Electrocardiogram (ECG), to see any problems with heart rhythm, an overview of heart muscle function, and the possibility of coronary heart disease.
- Photo A chest X-ray, to make sure that the patient has pulmonary edema, as well as looking at other possible causes of shortness of breath.
- Blood tests, to measure oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the blood (blood gas analysis), measure elevated levels of the B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) hormone in heart failure, and look at thyroid and kidney function.
- Echocardiography, to determine the presence of problems in the function of the heart pump.
- Cardiac catheterization is used to measure pressure in the heart chamber, evaluate the work of heart valves, and check the smooth flow of blood in the coronary vessels of the heart.
How to treat pulmonary edema
As the first treatment of pulmonary edema, the patient will be given oxygen. Oxygen is given through a face mask or a small hose mounted on the nose.
Based on the condition and cause of pulmonary edema, the doctor may also prescribe one or more of the following medications:
- Diuretics, such as furosemide, lower the pressure caused by excess fluid in the heart and lungs.
- Blood pressure medication, to control high blood pressure or raise blood pressure that is too low.
- Nitrate-type drugs, such as nitroglycerin, dilate blood vessels and reduce the pressure load in the left ventricle of the heart.
Most pulmonary edema conditions require treatment in the emergency room or the intensive care unit (ICU). When needed, the patient will be fitted with a hose connected to the breathing apparatus to ensure that oxygen enters the body sufficiently.
Complications of pulmonary edema
Untreated pulmonary edema can cause increased pressure in the right heart chamber, which serves to receive blood from the rest of the body. This condition can cause the right heart chamber to fail to function and cause:
- Fluid buildup in the abdominal cavity (ascites)
- Swelling of the limbs
- Swelling of liver organs
Lung Edema Prevention
The risk of developing pulmonary edema can be reduced by taking the following simple steps:
- Exercise regularly, 30 minutes a day.
- Consume healthy foods in the form of vegetables, fruits, as well as foods low in fat, sugar, and salt. It aims to keep weight, cholesterol levels in the blood, and blood pressure within the limits
- Don’t smoke.
- Manage stress well.