How Serious Is Fluid In The Lungs?

Fluid in the lungs or termed as Pleural effusion is a condition where there is an excessive build-up of fluid in the location between the chest cavity and the lungs. Pleura are thin membranes that cover both inside and outside of the lungs. There is a little quantity of fluid present in this space, as it offers lubrication during expansion and compression of the chest during respiration.

How Does The Effusion Develop?

When there is an infection or irritation, the pleura receives excessive fluid. The effusion causes accumulation, and specific causes are also responsible for the formation of the effusion. These include:

Types of Fluid in the Lungs or Pleural Effusions

Transudative Pleural Effusion: The occurrence of the effusion is because of the increased pressure in blood vessels and low protein content in the blood. The common cause behind the incident is congestive heart failure. Lung injury, tumors, inflammation and blocked lymph are other reasons for the cause.

Complicated and Uncomplicated Pleural Effusions: Uncomplicated pleural effusion occurs without any sign or inflammation. They have less effect in the development of permanent lung diseases. Complicated pleural effusions arise with required notices or inflammation. The individual should receive prompt treatment and at the earliest to prevent severe damages. The specialist performs frequent chest drains.


It is difficult to state the presence of the condition because an individual may or may not show signs of the presence of the disease. However, it is possible to access the situation with the help of x-ray or physical examinations. Common symptoms include:


Upon listening to the symptoms, the doctor will perform a physical examination using the stethoscope. It will help in understanding about the rhythm of the heartbeat and signs of fluid retention in the lungs. Based on this, the doctor will include:

Analyzing the fluid requires the doctor to remove a small quantity of fluid from the membrane by inserting a needle and sucking the same into a syringe. The doctor will further examine the fluid to understand the cause.

It is possible for your specialist to include a thoracoscopy if they identify the presence of the same but are unable to diagnose what type it is and how to proceed with the treatment. The procedure involves the doctor to view the membrane containing the area using fiber optic camera.

How Serious Is Fluid In The Lungs?

How Serious Is Fluid In The Lungs?

Fluid in the lungs can become life threatening and serious. It may require hospitalization and surgery. Fluid in the lungs can cause back pressure of blood inside the circulatory system. This back pressure causes severe breathlessness while lying down, coughing with blood stained white color sputum. The fluid in the lungs may also lead to Hypertension, angina, heart attack, irregular heartbeat, anemia, heart valve disease, hyper active thyroid gland.

The cause for the occurrence of the fluid in the lungs determines the treatment. Additionally, it changes from one to another. Nonetheless, the following are the common treatments that doctor often perform:

Chest Drainage: Chest drainage requires the removal of the fluid from the cavity. It requires using a needle or by inserting a tube. It is common for the patient to receive local anesthesia. After completion of the procedure, the doctor prescribes medications to wear-off the pain.

Pleurodesis: In this procedure, the doctor extracts the excessive fluid between the chest cavity and the lungs and injects a drug. The drug, which is in the form of talc, helps in sticking the two layers. Due to this, there is the absence of medium that makes it impossible for the accumulation of excessive fluid.

Surgery: If you are suffering from a severe condition, the doctor opts for an operation, where he/she insert a tube into the chest cavity. It will thus help in redirecting the fluid into the abdomen from where the doctor can remove it quickly.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:September 20, 2018

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