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Tobacco Smoking - Keep it Up if You Want Your Share of Pulmonary Edema

Updated on March 18, 2016

Pulmonary Edema

This is a very abbreviated discussion of pulmonary edema, a very serious and debilitating condition of and within the working parts of the lungs. It is frequently encountered in people with a history of tobacco smoking and, consequently, with all of the many health problems that can cause.

Edema refers to abnormal accumulation of fluid within individual cells and tissues of the body, and sometimes in body cavities. Edema results in swelling and occlusion of the affected parts. When fluid accumulates in the lungs the condition is called pulmonary edema.

Lung anatomy basically consists of intake and outflow tubing (bronchi and bronchioles), small sacks (alveoli) in which oxygen from inhaled air is obtained and from which waste gases, notably carbon dioxide, are expelled from the body. The alveoli, those little air sacks, are richly supplied with tiny, thin walled blood vessels (capillaries), through which in-and-out gas exchanges are conducted. These vital gas exchanges within the alveoli take place through osmosis by which waste gases flow from blood where their concentration is higher to where it is less plentiful, and in which needed oxygen moves into the body in the opposite direction.

Alveoli are normally empty of significant amounts of fluid; that is, they are appropriately "wet" but are not filled like some sort of liquid-filled vessels. Outside air enters the lungs through the bronchial tubing and into alveoli due to the partial vacuum created by downward diaphragm muscle movement. Air is expelled from the lungs by pressure to the lungs by upward movement of the diaphragms. Adequate gas exchange takes place in the alveoli.

If the alveoli become liquid-filled, less air enters them and gas exchange is significantly hindered. If oxygen-rich air cannot access blood in the capillaries, and if waste gases dissolved in capillary blood cannot contact outside air in alveoli, respiratory failure can occur. The more severe the edema, the more rapid can be the respiratory failure.

What are some of the causes of pulmonary edema?

There are two major types of pulmonary edema, cardiogenic, caused by pulmonary blood circulation failing to adequately remove fluid from the lungs, and noncardiogenic, which can be caused by direct injury or damage from disease to lung tissue (parenchyma).

Pulmonary edema symptoms are numerous and include symptoms with focal points other than in the lungs, per se.

A list of symptoms includes:

Difficulty in breathing, (dyspnea)
Frequent coughing, often with production of blood-tinted sputum
Inability to lie flat because of breathlessness (orthopnea)
Paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea (sudden breathing difficulty in sleep)
Sweating without exercise
Pallid (overly pale) skin
Fluid overload (leg swelling)
Frequent urination at night (nocturia)

A list, not all-inclusive, of causes of cardiogenic pulmonary edema is:

Congestive heart failure
Heart attack with subsequent failure of the left ventricle of the heart
Heart arrhythmias; overly fast (tachycardia) or substantially slow (bradychardia) heartbeat
Sudden worsening of hypertension (blood pressure)
Pericardial effusion with tamponade (severe swelling of the pericardium, the sack surrounding the heart, squeezing the heart muscle)
Kidney failure or intravenous therapy causing fluid overload

A partial list of causes of non-cardiogenic pulmonary edema is:

Obstruction of upper airways (perhaps from asthma, COPD, or infection)
Contusion due to trauma (i.e. auto accident, etc.)
Fluid aspiration (i.e. drowning, gastric contents)
Lung re-expansion following surgery, thoracentesis (surgical removal of fluid), etc.
Excessive blood transfusions
Lung infections
Subarachnoid hemorrhage (stroke)
Rapid ascent to high altitude


Treatments depend upon the cause, but are aimed at restoring or improving respiratory function and at removing whatever caused the breathing difficulties.


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    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 7 years ago from USA

      Howdy jamespages- I wish I'd quit smoking years before I actually did. Thanks for visiting the article and commenting.

      Gus :-)))

    • jamespages profile image

      jamespages 7 years ago

      Thanks for excellent article! I stopped smoking about 2 years ago, the book "Easy Way to Quit Smoking" helped me a lot!

      I must say that the life before and AFTER I stopped is totally different! :)

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 7 years ago from USA

      Howdy DVD - The goal of a good article is to educate the reader or to provide some amusement, perhaps both. I wish you well in your chosen medical profession. I have had plenty of experience working with quite a number of your countrymen and countrywomen in my own hospital work. One of them, in particular, became a mentor to me, and he will always be appreciated.

      So, Good Doctor, thank you for the pleasant comment and "odabo."

      Gus :-)))

    • D.Virtual.Doctor profile image

      Funom Theophilus Makama 7 years ago from Europe

      ha ha ha ha ha ha! I love the topic of this hub. Its cool.

      As a medical practitioner, I find diseases of the respiratory system very astonishing and interesting and as well quite complicating, due to their inter-relating symptoms and clinical similarities and seriously, such diseases really and truly need professional attention and adequate knowledge in order to dig in deep to giving the appropriate treatment as well as giving a good diagnosis. I find this hub very useful and I am so glad I read it. I will not hesitate bookmarking this, so as to maintain access to such a great, awesome and useful knowledge. Thumbs up and I rate it highly..


    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 8 years ago from USA

      Michael Shane - Well, I certainly hope that you do not wind up with pulmonary edema (or anything like it). As the docs enjoy saying, "It's never too late to quit - until it is too late."

      Gus (:-O

    • Michael Shane profile image

      Michael Shane 8 years ago from Gadsden, Alabama

      Yikes! I hope i don't end up with these....Great inforamational hub! Thanks for following Gus!

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 8 years ago from USA

      Prasetio - Thank you for your nice comment. Keep on abstaining from tobacco smoking if you can. Although there are generally 20 cigarettes in a pack, you have only two lungs. (:-O

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 8 years ago from malang-indonesia

      You have nice information here. thanks for share with us about the effect of tobacco. I am not smoking at all. So, I have to be aware about this disease.

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 8 years ago from USA

      Immartin - Well, it truly has done some nice things for me. However, I will stay in the passenger seat until we get you safely to Florida! :-)))

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 8 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Glad to know this did good things for you, Gus. Now, you'll have to get out of my passenger seat and get some work done. (and take your can and hose with you.)

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 8 years ago from USA

      Fellow Hubbers - This Hub helped me in my contacts with a potential client for my writing. I supplied the Hub's URL. They read it. I was told that they will be sending along a potential CEU development contract this coming week... Hubpages does nice things for writers who pay attention to the possibilities. :-)))

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 8 years ago from USA

      Aaaaahhhh Waren E - I hate to tell you this, but when I quit smoking back in the mid-1960s I thought that I was really done with it. Sometimes, like when I have a lovely cup of wonderful coffee, I find myself pounding on my chest pocket, searching for that pack of ciggies. It amazes me every time it happens. :-(((

    • Waren E profile image

      Waren E 8 years ago from HAS LEFT THE BUILDING............

      This info is So true Gus,I also read your hub on radiation being present in cigarette smoke, I only stopped smoking from the beginning of this year but the pangs still keep tempting me,keep telling us how awful smoking is Gus we all need that motivational truth!

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 8 years ago from USA

      Jess - Cigarette smoking does bad things to too many people.

      Here's the URL to a research article I once wrote. It will stop most tobacco smokers in their tracks, at least for the next 5 minutes: Gus

    • Jess Killmenow profile image

      Jess Killmenow 8 years ago from Nowheresville, Eastern United States

      I have seen a few people to me waste away or suffer damage as a result of cigarette smoking. So glad you wrote this article, Gus.


    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 8 years ago from USA

      Hmrjmr1 - The hub is doing "double duty." I was invited to submit a "test" article to an outfit in the medical education business, and they wanted to find out if I knew where the lungs were situated. :-)))

    • Hmrjmr1 profile image

      Hmrjmr1 8 years ago from Georgia, USA

      Good Hub Gus! Thanks