Symptoms and Signs of Pulmonary Edema vs. Emphysema

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Medically Reviewed on 6/3/2019

Doctor's Notes on Pulmonary Edema vs. Emphysema

Pulmonary edema and emphysema are both conditions that affect the lungs. Pulmonary edema is an excess collection of watery fluid in the lungs that inhibits lung function. Emphysema is a chronic, progressive lung disease in which the lung tissue involved in the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide is damaged or destroyed. Emphysema is a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

A symptom of pulmonary edema and emphysema that is similar is shortness of breath. Symptoms and signs of pulmonary edema also include coughing up frothy sputum, sweating, becoming cool and clammy, confusion, lethargy, chest pain, headache, vomiting, and poor decision-making. Signs and symptoms of emphysema also include cough, wheezing, decreased tolerance for exercise, and "pursed-lip breathing," in which a person exhales through pursed lips, and inhales through the nose in order to create pressure in the airways, opening them and allowing air to enter.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.