General information on Pleural Effusion
Pleural effusion is an accumulation of fluid in the pleural space of the chest. This can cause the lungs to be incapable of fully expanding and to have poor ventilation. The lung lobes can collapse and severe amounts of the accumulation of the fluids can be life threatening. This is the most common cause of congestive heart failure. In some cases, bacterial pneumonia can spread into the area between the lungs and thoracic wall, the pleural space, causing infection called empyema. In some instances, the fluid in the pleural space is blood. When the fluid is blood, this is caused by trauma, lung cancer, or a bleeding disorder. Other causes of pleural effusion can be heart failure, chylothorax, other types of cancer, liver disease, gastrointestinal disease, or infections. Large pleural effusions can press on the lungs and cause respiratory problems.
Symptoms of Pleural Effusion
Some of the symptoms of pleural effusion may be difficulty breathing, fast breathing, coughing, lethargy, weight loss, decreased appetite, exercise intolerance, open-mouthed breathing, standing or sitting with the elbows out, chest fully expanded, head and neck extended, and collapse after any amount of exertion. The lip, gums, and tongue may also appear to be blue in color.
Treatments for Pleural Effusion
The treatment for pleural effusion is to drain the fluids from the pleural space with a syringe. This should be done by a veterinarian immediately. The dog should then be hospitalized to find the cause of the pleural effusion so that it can be treated.
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