Q:

Can an edema cause serious health issues?

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Quick Answer

Tongue, throat, brain and pulmonary edema are four types of potentially life-threatening edema, according to WebMD. Pulmonary edema is fluid buildup in the lungs that prevents people from being able to breathe properly, explains MedlinePlus. Brain edema is swelling of the brain that can fatally restrict blood flow, notes WebMD. A food allergy can cause serious tongue or throat edema that prevents breathing. All of these conditions require prompt medical treatment.

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Pulmonary edema requires treatment with an oxygen face mask or a breathing tube at a hospital, according to MedlinePlus. Doctors also treat the underlying cause, which is commonly congestive heart failure. Kidney failure, narrowing of the arteries that serve the kidneys, certain types of lung damage, a major injury, high altitude sickness or some medications can also cause pulmonary edema.

Doctors treat brain edema through a variety of methods, including surgery to relieve the pressure within the brain, medication, IV fluids, ventriculostomy or oxygen therapy, notes WebMD. A traumatic brain injury can cause this type of edema, which leads to the brain tissue swelling. Infections, such as meningitis, encephalitis and subdural empyema, can also cause brain edema that requires additional treatment.

Edema of the tongue that interferes with breathing requires immediate treatment with epinephrine, antihistamines or a steroid, explains MedicineNet.com. A quickly swelling tongue is often the result of a food allergy.

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