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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.
There are various drugs that help to remove the excess fluid from the lungs. Oxygen is given until you are stabilized. In rare but serious cases surgery may be needed.
Over the Counter
Complementary and Alternative Therapies
Alternative therapies can strengthen the cardiopulmonary system.
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 (Gallium aparine) yarrow (Achillea millefolium) oatstraw (Avena sativa) elder (Sambucus canadensis) red clover (Trifolium pratense) fresh parsley (Petroselenium crispus) and dandelion leaf (Taraxacum officinalis).
For pulmonary edema that does not originate with the heart:
For pulmonary edema originating with the heart:
Homeopathy may be useful as a supportive therapy.
Alternating hot and cold applications with hand or foot baths may help circulation. Alternate three minutes hot with one minute cold. Repeat three times. This is 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.
Continued medication and surveillance may be required.
Pregnant women who are obese and have high blood pressure are at increased risk for pulmonary edema.
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Thierney LM Jr McPhee SJ Papadakis MA eds. Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment 1999. 38th ed. Stamford Conn: Appleton & Lange; 1999.