Respiratory diseases

Pulmonary edema

Pulmonary edema – the accumulation of fluid in the interstitial tissue (interstitial pulmonary edema) and (or) in the alveoli of the lungs (alveolar pulmonary edema) by plasma extravasation from vessels of the pulmonary circulation. Often, pulmonary edema occurs suddenly, but sometimes the process is chronic.


  • Severe shortness of breath.
  • Blueness of the skin.
  • Noisy wheezing.
  • Pinkish-yellow frothy sputum.


Pulmonary edema is caused by changing the ratio of the pressure in the lungs. This change increases the permeability of blood vessels. In connection with the release of large quantities of liquid lymphatic drainage system is not able to provide full outflow of liquid penetrating through the capillary walls. This usually occurs when there is failure of the left ventricle of the heart, which is manifested, for example, by high blood pressure, myocardial infarction, or stenosis (narrowing) butterfly valve. Other possible causes – hunger, kidney disease and fluid from entering the blood, infection, trauma, multiple poisoning, such as carbon dioxide gas, cyanide derivatives of phosphorus and nitrogen, metals – arsenic, cadmium and mercury. Pulmonary edema is possible with lesions of the brain, the so-called cerebral edema of the lungs. Complication of acute mountain sickness (during ascent to high altitude) can be caused by acute high-altitude pulmonary edema. After 1-4 days there are following symptoms: dry cough, shortness of breath, sputum mixed with blood, cyanosis of the skin and heart palpitations.


First of all it is necessary to determine the cause of pulmonary edema. However, doctors do not usually have time for research due to the sudden onset of pulmonary edema in a patient and the need for emergency medical care to save a human life.

It’s necessary to lift up the patient’s upper torso, and the legs fold down to reduce the flow of blood to the lungs. Blood flow to the lungs can be reduced with hot bath for the feet and a tourniquet on feet and hands. Furthermore, nitrates are used (intravenously or by inhalation), sometimes venesection are made. Doctor prescribes diuretics and medications that improve the functioning of the heart. In severe cases, artificial respiration are used.

Acute pulmonary edema is dangerous to life, so when its first symptoms, you should call an ambulance.

In the ambulance doctor puts the patient in the proper position and provide the necessary assistance.

Course of the disease

Sometimes before pulmonary edema cardiac asthma may appear, it’s accompanied by shortness of breath, rapid breathing, dry cough.

Acute pulmonary edema

It begins suddenly – patient has shortness of breath, which eventually increases. Patient’s lips and the skin turning blue. When patient inhales, the tracheal rales are heard. Sometimes pinkish-yellowish sputum appears when you cough.

Chronic pulmonary edema

It’s typical for elderly people with left-sided heart failure.


One of the main causes of pulmonary edema – cardiac dysfunction, which is caused by high blood pressure and atherosclerosis. A healthy lifestyle will greatly reduce the risk of these diseases.