These symptoms can help you identify water in your lungs


As the body's respiratory organs, the lungs fulfill a vital task, without a break. It is all the faster and more uncomfortable when this function is no longer or only insufficiently fulfilled: shortness of breath becomes noticeable, i.e. the feeling of not getting any or bad air. Breathing becomes deeper and more strenuous in order to be able to take in enough oxygen.
There are many different causes for these and other symptoms. One of these may be that there is a build-up in the alveoli (Alveoli) Fluid has accumulated. In medical terminology, it is a so-called pulmonary edema. Such pulmonary edema typically develops over a certain period of hours or several days, ie not "from now on". Nevertheless, if there are signs that fluid has accumulated in the alveoli, action should be taken quickly to restore the person's ability to breathe.

You can get an overview of the diseases of the lungs here: Lung disease

Overview of the typical symptoms

  • Shortness of breath

  • anxiety and restlessness caused by shortness of breath

  • Cough, possibly with colorless, transparent sputum

  • rattling or seething noises when breathing

  • pale or bluish skin color (especially face and lips)

  • rapid pulse, racing and palpitations

  • Chest or upper body pain

Shortness of breath

Shortness of breath is a common symptom of both heart and lung problems and is therefore unspecific. However, shortness of breath should be evaluated and treated quickly, especially if it occurs suddenly or worsens quickly.

Shortness of breath always occurs when the brain registers less oxygen supply than necessary. In lung diseases this happens when a certain part of the lungs is not available for gas exchange. This can be the case, for example, with structural changes in the lung tissue or the airways. But the physical displacement of a section of the lung can also be the cause of the shortage of breath.

An accumulation of fluid makes the lower part of the lungs unsuitable for breathing: Here no more air can reach the walls of the alveoli. Since the liquid flows downwards due to gravity, this part of the lungs is no longer available for gas exchange. The difficulty in breathing increases the more fluid there is in the lungs and the fewer the alveoli that are able to breathe.

Additional information on the topic "Shortness of breath" can be found at:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Causes of shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing due to a weak heart

to cough

If there is fluid or secretion in the lungs, the body will try to transport it out as a protective mechanism. Since the lung tissue can only absorb fluids to a limited extent, coughing is the only way to restore the function of the lungs.

So coughing with transparent and colorless sputum indicates that the fluid level in the lungs has reached a certain level that allows the lungs to remove some of it.

But even coughing without sputum is - in connection with the other symptoms mentioned here - a serious indication of an existing pulmonary edema that requires treatment. If no other symptoms occur with the cough, finding the cause is more difficult. Medical advice should then be obtained at the latest if the cough persists for more than a week.

You might also be interested in:

  • Pneumonia without a cough

Rattling lung noise

The fluid that is swirled up by the breaths creates bubbles and creates a rattling or boiling noise. It can be compared to a whirlpool, for example: Here, too, the air flowing through the water makes for the typical "boiling" sound. It should be noted that this phenomenon must logically be breath-dependent: It only occurs when inhaling and exhaling, but not between breaths. The best way to hear the rattle is to put your ear close to the affected person or use a stethoscope.

Foam at the mouth

Foamy saliva in front of the mouth can also indicate fluid build-up in the lungs. Against the background of pulmonary edema, this is a phenomenon that is easy to explain: This foam is actually fluid that is removed from the lungs. The intense whirling up caused by coughing and the air you breathe leads to ample blistering, which then becomes visible as foam. Having foamy liquid in front of the mouth is usually a sign that the liquid level is already higher in the lungs - because the body can only remove liquid from the airways from a certain height. Accordingly, medical advice should be sought from the family doctor or the medical emergency service in this situation.


Anyone who has experienced any kind of shortness of breath or shortness of breath will be able to confirm that restlessness and fear are developing. This is a natural mechanism of the body when it is noticed that the body's oxygen supply is inadequate and that there is a long-term risk of suffocation. The sympathetic part of the nervous system in the body is then activated, which in turn puts the body on alert. This includes, among other things, the increase and acceleration of heart and lung function, which on the one hand ensures a short-term improvement in the oxygen supply to the body - but on the other hand causes inner restlessness or nervousness through the messenger substances released. After all, increased shortness of breath is also accompanied by anxiety, which of course also leads to psychogenic restlessness.

Also read: Mentally induced shortness of breath


The shortness of breath described above can - if left untreated - increase to a feeling of suffocation. A feeling of suffocation is often associated with fear of death and should therefore be treated as quickly as possible. Although the lungs are usually never completely filled with fluid, enough capacity can be covered by the fluid accumulation that adequate breathing is no longer possible. If a fearful reaction becomes noticeable through the feeling of suffocation, it is not by chance, but because the body thereby draws attention to the lack of functional lung capacity. Therefore, in the event of severe shortness of breath in connection with a feeling of suffocation, the emergency medical service should be called in.

Chest pain

First of all: Sudden severe pain in the chest is always a reason to see a doctor as soon as possible or to call the emergency services.In any case, it is worthwhile to be able to describe the pain in more detail: Where exactly does it hurt - is there a specific point or is the pain diffuse? How does it feel, is it more piercing or rather dull? Since when has the pain existed and how has the severity of the pain changed - if at all - since then? You should also pay attention to whether the pain occurs as a function of breathing, which would then suggest a cause in the lungs. Fluid in the lungs can also cause pain, which then usually does not begin suddenly, but begins slowly and insidiously and tends to get worse.

More about this at:

  • Chest pain
  • Chest pain from thoracic organs

Increased pulse

As already described above, the body reacts to a poor oxygen supply by activating the sympathetic nervous system, which in turn puts the body's own systems on a general alert. In evolutionary terms, this served to prepare a “fight or flight” reaction - and the function of this nervous system can also be best derived from this archetype: In order to ensure the best possible oxygen supply, the lungs and heart activity are increased. In addition, the vessels are slightly narrowed, which physically accelerates the blood flow and the blood can bring the oxygen to the parts of the body even faster. The increased heart activity also increases the heart rate, among other things. An insufficient supply of oxygen to the body therefore indirectly increases the heart rate.

You can read additional information here: Increased pulse - when is a pulse considered too high?