Pulmonary Edema or Lung Water

Pulmonary Edema or Lung Water, is the medical term for fluid filled lungs.  The lungs are two large (normally) air filled organs that fill most of our chest.  Their job is to transfer oxygen from the atmosphere to the blood stream, which essential for every cell in the body.  Each lung (left and right) is comprised of millions and millions of small bags called alveoli.  If these alveoli fill with fluid instead of air the usual exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide cannot take place causing severe medical problems. Pleurisy (or pleural effusion) is a build up of fluid around the lungs, rather than within the alveoli. The causes and symptoms are very similar to Lung Water.  Consult your doctor regarding any possible treatments.

Symptoms of Pulmonary Edema and Pleurisy. Symptoms usually include difficulty breathing, wheezing, and a hoarse throat.  Many sufferers require many pillows when sleeping as they find it difficult to lie flat.  Patients often cough up fluid, usually of a pinky or blood colour.  Other fluid on the lung symptoms the patient may suffer include lack of appetite and weight loss, coughing fits, fever, chest pain, coughing blood, swollen feet and ankles, and repeated symptoms of colds and flu.


Why does fluid build up in lungs? There are two types of causes of fluid to buildup in lungs, cardiogenic and non-cardiogenic pleurisy.  Cardiogenic factors are caused by the circulatory system.  The heart fails to pump the blood around the body effectively and there is a pressure build up in the blood vessels around the lungs.  If this pressure becomes great enough the blood can seep from the capillaries (tiny blood vessels) into the alveoli, which causes water lungs. Cardiogenic pulmonary edema is usually caused by high blood pressure or a heart disorder such as Cardiomyopathy (infection of the heart), Arrhythmias (irregular beating rhythm), Endocarditis (an infection in the valves of the heart), Valvular heart disease (problems with the gates between heart chambers) or even a Heart Attack or Left-sided Heart Failure. Non-cardiogenic reasons for fluid around heart and lungs are mostly infections, although shock, drowning and altitude sickness can cause water in the lungs.  The infections are usually caused by smoke inhalation (cigarettes are particularly harmful), or exposure to toxins such as chlorine, ammonia or nitrogen dioxide. Other non-cardiogenic fluid in lung causes include Pulmonary Embolism (a blockage of blood vessels in the lung) Kidney Failure, Pneumonia, Drug abuse and Pancreatitis.  Smokers and people who work with asbestos are most at risk.  Smoking causes danger of fluid on lungs.  If you smoke, STOP!

Testing for Fluid Filled Lungs. If you are experiencing any fluid on the lung symptoms, consult your Doctor.  The physical tests for water in the lungs include checking the patients pulse (most Pleurisy suffers experience a slightly faster heart rate), checking strength of breath (especially when the nose appears to widen) and listening to the chest with a stethoscope.  The Doctor may hear the fluid moving in the lungs, and abnormal heart sounds.The Doctor may also carry out blood tests to check oxygen and carbon dioxide levels.  An x-ray of the chest and lungs may show fluid in the alveoli.  Mucus from coughs can be tested for cancer cells, and a CT scan may be used to view the lungs in more detail.  A Bronchoscope (small tube) can be used to look inside the lungs or to take samples of fluid.  Specialist heart diagnosis (such as Electrocardiogram, Echocardiogram, Cardiac Catheterization and Swan-Ganz Catheterization) can also be used to pinpoint the cause of the problem.

Pleurisy and Fluid Lungs Treatment. In severe cases immediate Oxygen is required to assist breathing.  Often painkillers and medications such as Morphine or Nitroglycerin can be administered to relieve anxiety, improve blood circulation and excretion of waste fluids.

The first step in treatment is to remove fluid from lungs.  This can be accomplished by a needle or tube inserted into the lungs and used to drain the fluid (lung fluid drain pleura).  This process may not be necessary if the disease is diagnosed quickly and the underlying problem is solved .The essential step is to solve the underlying problem that is causing the fluid leakage.  This usually involves addressing problems with smoking and encouraging the patient to eat a healthy diet, although in severe cases an operation or diuretics (drugs to increase urination, removing excess fluid) may be required.  In minor cases a lung detox could be enough to solve the issue. Once the issue causing the fluid in the lungs is fixed, the patient is moved to the recovery program.  This usually involves a low salt diet and fluid restriction.

How long does pleurisy last?  This depends on the severity of the problem, in the most severe cases patient can take up to three months to recover.

Is pleurisy contagious? Fluid filled lungs are not contagious, however if they are caused by an infection or exposure to toxins, such as smoking or asbestos, then others who are exposed will be at risk.  Be aware of the dangers of smoking.

Can you die from pleurisy? In extreme cases, people have been know to die of pleural effusion and pulmonary edema.

Recommendations. Always consult your Doctor should you show any symptoms of fluid filled lungs.  Be aware of fluid in lung causes and avoid them whenever possible. If you are recovering from pleural effusion, pulmonary edema or if you suffer from any kind of shortness of breath, we recommend that you take steps to ensure your lungs are kept healthy, clean and functioning correctly.