Symptoms of acute pulmonary edema, which results from the accumulation of too much fluid in the lungs, include a cough with bloody phlegm, extreme shortness of breath that aggravates while lying down, anxiety and a suffocating sensation, states Mayo Clinic. People with chronic pulmonary edema experience unusual shortness of breath when physically active, waking up in the middle of sleep with a breathless sensation, and difficulty breathing when lying down or performing strenuous tasks.
People with high-altitude pulmonary edema initially experience trouble walking upward and panting after exertion, and eventually find it hard to walk on flat surfaces and suffer shortness of breath while resting, according to Mayo Clinic. Other symptoms of the condition include fever, cough with or without bloody phlegm, and heart palpitations.
In people with pulmonary edema, fluid builds up in the air sacs of the lungs, leading to breathing difficulty, explains Mayo Clinic. Heart problems, pneumonia, going to highly elevated locations, and being exposed to some toxins or medications are possible causes of the condition.
Acute, or sudden, pulmonary edema requires prompt medical care, particularly if a person notices symptoms such as sudden shortness of breath, a suffocating sensation and a gasping noise when breathing, notes Mayo Clinic. Doctors caution against driving to the hospital. It is best to call an emergency number and wait for help.