Why Does Fluid Build up in Lungs?
In very basic terms, the answer to this question has to be: Fluid builds up in our lungs for several different reasons. But we don’t have to leave it in this undefined state because medical research has uncovered most, if not all, of the reasons for this condition.
One result of such research proposes that the body will naturally produce some fluid in the lungs when there is a respiratory infection. This occurs, the theory states, because it helps the coughing mechanism. Trouble starts when certain viruses, such as those causing influenza, push the body to produce excess fluid. The main problem then is that the body does not get enough oxygen.
Research conducted specifically on flu viruses and their effects seems to indicate that the strength of the virus causes far too much fluid to build up in the lungs and severe illness or death occurs because the person can’t breath. The process seems to start when the virus gets into individual cells in the lungs. The cells send out molecules that adhere to other cells. One effect is that certain necessary chemicals, such as sodium, aren’t produced as needed. If sodium is present the pathways it moves in are affected to the point that unnatural fluid builds up in spaces where air normally travels.
The presence of a virus and the mishandling of sodium are certainly not the only causes of fluid building up in the lungs. Medical research shows that heart problems can contribute to fluid build-up in various parts of the body. Inefficient pumping of blood may cause excess fluids to gather in the blood vessels. This fluid would normally move through the body and some might be eliminated from the body naturally.
If this excess fluid is present in the veins around the lungs and heart, it can obstruct air spaces in the lungs. Some of the heart problems that might have this effect are myocardial infarction, valve failure within the heart, infection of heart tissue, especially valves; irregular heart beat, high blood pressure and birth defects of the heart.
Medical studies also show that problems elsewhere in the body may cause the build-up of excess fluid in the lungs. If the kidneys fail, the blood is not filtered properly, leaving unnecessary and hazardous fluids in the system. Infections of the lung not associated with viruses may also result in fluid gathering in the airways. Pneumonia can be a primary cause of such build-up.
To understand why fluid builds up in the lungs, it is important to understand what the lungs are made of and how the specific tissue in lungs works. Lungs somewhat resemble sponges in that they are composed of small sac-like areas known in the medical world as alveoli. These small spaces that are normally filled with the air we breathe make it easier for fluid to collect.
A number of symptoms may indicate fluid build-up, including begin short of breath, wheezing, unusual weariness and swelling of extremities (feet and hands). Because sodium seems to be crucial to the breathing process, some people with fluid build-up problems must stay on a low-sodium diet.