Pulmonary edema is a condition characterized by a fluid build-up in the lungs making it difficult to breathe as the gas exchange will be affected, eventually leading to respiratory failure and even death. Pulmonary edema can be either acute or chronic depending on the length of time the fluid accumulates in the lungs.
Sudden acute pulmonary edema can be a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention, while chronic pulmonary edema occurs continuously over time and requires regular monitoring by a physician.
Common causes of pulmonary edema include pneumonia, trauma, near-drowning, allergic reaction to certain medications, drug overuse, kidney failure, liver cirrhosis, congestive heart failure, exposure to some chemicals, sepsis, blood transfusion, brain injuries, seizures, stroke, and brain tumors.
Symptom #1: Difficulty Breathing
Difficulty breathing is a characteristic symptom of pulmonary edema because as the lungs are filled with fluid, it’s understandable that breathing will become more difficult. The faster the fluid accumulates in the lungs, such as in cases of acute pulmonary edema, the harder it will be to breathe.
On the other hand, when fluid accumulates over a long period of time, such as in cases of chronic pulmonary edema, the lungs and the entire organism will eventually get used to these continuous breathing difficulties and this problem will become more noticeable and bothersome when doing an excessive physical activity or when lying down.