Pulmonary edema is the buildup of fluid in the lungs, usually
resulting from the heart's inability to pump blood through the body
effectively. It can be caused by heart or kidney failure, poisoning, widespread
infection, stroke, or near-drowning.
Symptoms of pulmonary edema
include difficulty breathing, restlessness, shortness of breath that is worse
when lying down, rapid heart rate, and a cough that sometimes produces foamy
Although pulmonary edema can be a life-threatening
condition, it is treatable, depending on the cause. Treatment may include
oxygen given through the nose or a face mask. In severe cases, relief may
require a breathing tube placed into the windpipe (intubation) and use of a
breathing machine (ventilator). Medicines to strengthen the heart muscle or to
relieve the pressure on the heart may also be given as needed.
February 22, 2012
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Robert L. Cowie, MB, FCP(SA), MD, MSc, MFOM - Pulmonology
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