Pulmonary edema - diagnosis and therapy

How is the diagnosis made?

The suspicion diagnosis made by the medical history and observation usually confirms already during the tapping and listening of the lungs. The commonly-made chest X-ray also shows typical changes that vary with severity.

With an ECG and a cardiac ultrasound (echocardiography) can be on the one hand statements about possibly underlying heart disease meet, on the other hand, the pressure conditions in the lungs and the vessels assess. Using a blood gas analysis with determination of oxygen and carbon dioxide content in the blood from earlobe or wrist can be found out how pronounced the respiratory disorder.

Which therapy is available for pulmonary edema?

The treatment of the potentially life-threatening clinical picture belongs in any case in the doctor's hand in the hospital. The first step is to make it easier for the person concerned to breathe. For this purpose, it is placed to relieve the heart with a high-lying upper body and low-hanging legs and it is administered oxygen via nasogastric or facial mask.

In very severe cases, the patient must be temporarily artificially ventilated. Sometimes secretions are sucked out of the bronchi via the nose. The patient may receive pain medication; If he is very restless, sedatives can be given. However, these can suppress not only the fears, but also the respiration, which is why a close monitoring is necessary.

The further therapy depends on the cause of the pulmonary edema. For example, in left heart failure medications are given, which reduce the burden on the heart (nitroglycerin and diuretic = diuretics). If toxins or allergies are the trigger, a cortisone preparation is administered, in case of kidney failure dialysis is indicated.

What is the prognosis?

The course of pulmonary edema itself is generally good with appropriate, rapid treatment. Rarely, pneumonia develops. However, the overall prognosis for the person affected depends on the underlying disease.

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