Pulmonary Edema

Pulmonary edema occurs when too much fluid accumulates in the lungs, often due to heart attacks, heart disease, or acute severe asthma. It requires immediate medical attention.

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms often begin suddenly and get worse quickly. They include:

What Causes It?

Some risk factors for pulmonary edema include the following.

What to Expect at Your Provider's Office

Immediate treatment is required because an attack is life-threatening. Once the initial attack is under control, your provider will order blood tests and a urine test to look for what may have caused the attack. You will also undergo a chest X ray and electrocardiogram.

Treatment Options

Medications include diuretics to remove excess fluid from the lungs and morphine to relieve congestion. In rare cases, surgery may be needed.

Complementary and Alternative Therapies

Alternative therapies can strengthen the cardiopulmonary system.

Nutrition Herbs
Herbs may be used as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Teas should be made with 1 tsp. herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 to 20 minutes for roots.

The following are best administered in a tea (4 to 6 cups per day), although a tincture may be used (30 to 60 drops four times per day). Combine three of the these herbs with equal parts of two to three additional herbs from the following categories, according to the underlying cause. Cleavers (Galium aparine), yarrow (Achillea millefolium), oatstraw (Avena sativa), elder (Sambucus nigra), red clover (Trifolium pratense), fresh parsley (Petroselinum crispus), and dandelion leaf (Taraxacum officinale).

For pulmonary edema that does not originate with the heart: For pulmonary edema originating with the heart: Homeopathy
Homeopathy may be useful as a supportive therapy.

Physical Medicine
Alternating hot and cold applications with hand or foot baths may help circulation. Alternate three minutes hot with one minute cold. Repeat three times to complete one set. Do two to three sets per day.

Castor oil pack. Apply oil directly to the chest, cover with a clean soft cloth and plastic wrap. Place a heat source over the pack and let sit for 30 to 60 minutes.

Acupuncture may improve cardiopulmonary function.

Massage can assist with increasing circulation and lymphatic drainage.

Following Up

Continued medication and surveillance may be required.

Special Considerations

Pregnant women who are obese and have high blood pressure are at increased risk for pulmonary edema.


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