June 23, 2009

Causes And Treatment for Pulmonary Edema

Posted in Category : Common Ailments

To understand the condition that is pulmonary edema, you need to imagine your lungs looking like a sponge. Just as the sponge is full of holes, the lungs are full of small bags that process the air we breathe to extract important gases. These bags are called alveoli. Surrounding the alveoli are millions of veins that carry blood from the lungs to the alveoli to keep them in healthy condition. The barrier that separates the blood held in the veins and the air contained within the alveoli is a very thin and fragile membrane. If there is a slight change in the pressure or change in the fluid content, it could breach this barrier causing the alveoli to fill up with blood and restricting the air from entering the alveoli. This will lead to a noticeable shortness of breath and could lead to death. This entry of fluids into the lungs is known as Pulmonary Edema. Imagine that same sponge containing soap water. If you were to squeeze this sponge, the contents flowing out would look frothy, which is in much the same as it would in pulmonary edema.

More often than not, it will be heart conditions that cause pulmonary edema. Congestive heart failure, heart attacks and abnormal heart valves have all led to pulmonary edema in numerous patients. But is must be known that a number of other issues and organs can contribute to this condition as well.

If a person with extreme kidney failure does not remove excess fluids from the body by way of dialysis, the excess fluids could build up within the body and lead to pulmonary edema. A bleeding brain or brain surgery can also lead to a build up of fluid in the lungs leading to pulmonary edema as can an overdose of illicit drugs like heroin and methadone.

At the onset, there might be a gradual feeling of shortness of breath or breathlessness, although this could happen in a sudden attack as well. A sufferer will also experience dizziness and fatigue or weakness. The use of a stethoscope will also show up abnormal sounds coming from the lungs which might resemble bubbles due to the liquid building up within the alveoli.

Since this is a very critical condition, anyone diagnosed with it should seek expert medical help at the earliest opportunity as it is a very fast acting condition and, if not dealt with in a timely manner, will almost surely end in death of the sufferer.