Pulmonary edema causes and symptoms

Kanak Kundlani

Talking about heart issues and the widespread damage that they cause, pulmonary edema is one of them. When there is abnormal fluid build up in the lungs, it leads to shortness of breath. Hence, it’s needless to say that pulmonary edema is a painful health ailment, to say the least. Now that we’ve introduced you to the problem, let’s start with the causes of pulmonary edema.

pulmonary edema

Pulmonary edema causes

Although heart issues give rise to pulmonary edema, it can also be caused by a host of different health issues. Some of them are listed below. 

  • Heart failureCongestive heart failure often causes pulmonary edema. How it happens is when the heart is unable to pump blood efficiently, the blood can back up in the veins, causing blood to accumulate in the lungs. This fluid build-up can make its way to the air spaces (alveoli). Additionally, the fluid can also hamper normal oxygen movement in the lungs, making it harder to breathe. 
  • Cardiomyopathy – One of the lesser known pulmonary edema causes is cardiomyopathy. Essentially it is a disease of the heart muscle that makes it harder for the heart to pump blood efficiently. Since the blood can’t be pumped efficiently, it can give rise to a heart attack. The additional heart issues then can cause it. 
  • High blood pressureHypertension or high blood pressure can often be the cause. More pressure to pump blood means more pressure on the heart when it’s pumping blood to different organs of the body. When the pressure increases on the heart, it is more likely to fail. 
  • Certain medications can also cause pulmonary edema. 
  • Other health issues that can cause it are kidney failure, lung damage, and narrowed arteries. 

Pulmonary edema symptoms

With the scale of the problem being huge, it is important to identify the symptoms of pulmonary edema correctly, to better treat it. Here are some of the symptoms listed below. 

  • Breathlessness on activity or when lying down. 
  • Perplexed feeling of suffocation or drowning. This symptom is usually categorized by heaviness in and around the chest area.  
  • Wheezing/grunting/gurgling sounds while breathing.
  • Coughing up blood or bloody froth from the mouth. 
  • Speech issues due to shortness of breath. Can’t speak full sentences. 
  • Anxiety and restlessness.
  • Swelling in legs and abdomen area.
  • Lack of alertness
  • Excessive sweating
pulmonary edema symptoms


As unpredictable and devastating heart issues can be, sometimes what follows is far worse. One shouldn’t ignore additional health issues that arise from heart problems. While treatments include making lifestyle changes for the better (eating well and exercising), it’s also important to treat the root problem. 

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Kanak Kundlani