Why does fluid build up in lungs
The medical term for having fluid in the lungs is pulmonary edema. This fluid build-up in the lungs leads to poor gas exchange, and could be a potential cause of respiratory failure in the patient. There are two main causes for pulmonary edema. The first is failure of the heart to remove fluid from the lungs in circulation, which is known as cardiogenic pulmonary edema. The second results from direct injury to the lungs in some fashion, and is known as noncardiogenic pulmonary edema. Treatment for both types of fluid build-up ultimately depend on the cause, but the end result is the same: getting the fluid build-up out of the lungs.
When pulmonary edema occurs because of a heart related reason, there are several causes said to be cardiogenic. These causes include congestive heart faiure, severe heart attack and ventricular failure, an arrhythmia, pulmonary hypertension, or simply a fluid overload, such as what occurs after kidney failure, or treatment with intravenous therapy. Non-cardiogenic causes can happen any time lung tissue is damaged, or even if there is neurological damage, such as severe head trauma, or even strangulation. In some cases, electrocution can also be a cause of fluid build up in the lungs, as observed in many of the cadavers of death row inmates who underwent this punishment.
If there is no trauma to the lungs present, and a heart condition doesn’t cause the fluid build up in the lungs, it is possible the inhalation of toxic fumes, or partial aspiration could result in the fluid build up. Other causes include multiple blood transfusions, or even a severe infection of the lungs.
The treatment for fluid retention in the lungs is somewhat varied, depending on what had caused the retention, and how long the build up has been accumulating. Nevertheless, the main goal of therapy for patients with pulmonary edema is maintaining adequate oxygen flow, so the heart and brain do not become starved. This can happen in several different ways, such as high oxygen ventilation, or even mechanical ventilation, if the patient is having trouble breathing properly on their own. If the problem is more serious with circulatory causes being the cause of the build up, there are treatments which include intravenous nitrates and other diuretics which help the body stop retaining fluids, which in turn helps clear out the lungs over time. Both of these methods are perfectly acceptable in helping patients with any type of cardiogenic pulmonary edema, and it is not unheard of for patients who suffer from pulmonary hyptertension to be put on some form of diuretic even before fluid retention, as it is such a common occurrence.
For patients who have inhaled toxic fumes and gases and suffered internal lung damage, the treatment is usually very mild, such as making sure the patient is exposed to fresh air which contains no fumes or harmful gases. In severe cases where the lung build up could be a problem and doesn’t seem to be clearing up on its own, these patients are given diuretics as well.