Pulmonary edema

Pulmonary edema is the buildup of fluid in the lungs, usually resulting from the heart's inability to pump blood through the body effectively. It can be caused by heart or kidney failure, poisoning, widespread infection, stroke, or near-drowning.

Symptoms of pulmonary edema include difficulty breathing, restlessness, shortness of breath that is worse when lying down, rapid heart rate, and a cough that sometimes produces foamy pink fluid.

Although pulmonary edema can be a life-threatening condition, it is treatable, depending on the cause. Treatment may include oxygen given through the nose or a face mask. In severe cases, relief may require a breathing tube placed into the windpipe (intubation) and use of a breathing machine (ventilator). Medicines to strengthen the heart muscle or to relieve the pressure on the heart may also be given as needed.

Last Updated: March 3, 2008

Author: Maria G. Essig, MS, ELS

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Mark A. Rasmus, MD - Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine

related physicians

related services

Bon Secours International| Sisters of Bon Secours USA| Bon Secours Health System

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Privacy Policy. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2010 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.