Siamak N. Nabili, MD, MPH
Dr. Nabili received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), majoring in chemistry and biochemistry. He then completed his graduate degree at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). His graduate training included a specialized fellowship in public health where his research focused on environmental health and health-care delivery and management.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
- Pulmonary edema definition and facts
- What is pulmonary edema?
- What are the symptoms of pulmonary edema?
- What are the risk factors?
- What causes pulmonary edema?
- What are the complications of pulmonary edema?
- How is the condition diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for pulmonary edema?
- When should I seek medical care for pulmonary edema?
- How can pulmonary edema be prevented?
Pulmonary edema definition and facts
- Pulmonary edema is typically caused by filling of alveoli in the lungs by fluid leaking out of the blood.
- Pulmonary edema may be caused by a number of cardiac or non-cardiac conditions.
- Breathing difficulty is the main manifestation of pulmonary edema.
- Treatment of the underlying cause of pulmonary edema is an essential step in the management of pulmonary edema.
What is pulmonary edema?
Edema, in general, means swelling. This typically occurs when fluid from inside blood vessels seeps outside the blood vessel into the surrounding tissues, causing swelling. This can happen either because of too much pressure in the blood vessels or not enough proteins in the bloodstream to hold on to the fluid in the plasma (the part of the blood that does not contain any blood cells).
Pulmonary edema is the term used when edema happens in the lungs. The immediate area outside of the small blood vessels in the lungs is occupied by very tiny air sacs called the alveoli. This is where oxygen from the air is picked up by the blood passing by, and carbon dioxide in the blood is passed into the alveoli to be exhaled out. Alveoli normally have a thin wall that allows for this air exchange, and fluids are usually kept out of the alveoli unless these walls lose their integrity.
Pulmonary edema occurs when the alveoli fill up with excess fluid seeped out of the blood vessels in the lung instead of air. This can cause problems with the exchange of gas (oxygen and carbon dioxide), resulting in breathing difficulty and poor oxygenation of blood. Sometimes, this can be referred to as "water in the lungs" when describing the condition to patients.
Pulmonary edema can be caused by many different factors. It can be related to heart failure, called cardiogenic pulmonary edema, or related to other causes, referred to as non-cardiogenic pulmonary edema.
What are the symptoms of pulmonary edema?
The most common symptom of pulmonary edema is shortness of breath or breathlessness. This may be of gradual onset if the process slowly develops, or it can have a sudden onset in the case of acute pulmonary edema.
Low blood oxygen level (hypoxia) may be detected in patients with pulmonary edema. Furthermore, upon examination of the lungs with a stethoscope, the doctor may listen for abnormal lung sounds, such as rales or crackles (discontinuous short bubbling sounds corresponding to the splashing of the fluid in the alveoli during breathing).
What are the risk factors?
The risk factors for pulmonary edema are essentially the underlying causes of the condition. There isn't any specific risk factor for pulmonary edema other than risk factors for the causative conditions.
Find out what women really need.