What Causes Fluid in the Lungs?


Quick Answer

There are multiple causes of fluid in the lungs and many of them relate to the heart, notes Mayo Clinic. When the left ventricle is unable to efficiently pump out the blood it receives from the pulmonary circulation, pressure occurs in the left atrium, the veins and eventually the capillaries in the lungs. This forces fluid through the walls of the alveoli.

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Full Answer

The alveoli are small sacs that pass oxygen through to the lungs and take carbon dioxide back out. When they fill with fluid instead of air, oxygen does not reach the bloodstream. Numerous cardiac conditions cause this condition. Coronary artery disease causes a heart attack that prevents the left ventricle from pumping effectively, according to Mayo Clinic. Cardiomyopathy occurs when noncoronary conditions cause damage to the heart, which then damages the left ventricle. Heart valve problems increase pressure in the left ventricle and eventually weaken it as it enlarges to accommodate more blood volume. Uncontrolled high blood pressure also damages the left ventricle.

Noncoronary causes of fluid in the lungs include acute respiratory distress syndrome, which occurs following physical trauma. High altitude may increase pressure in the pulmonary capillaries and forces fluid into the alveoli. Pulmonary embolisms, nervous system dysfunctions, reactions to toxic substances, adverse drug reactions, severe smoke inhalation and near drowning also cause fluid in the lungs, explains Mayo Clinic.

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