Chronic lung disease is a general term of persistent lung disorders. It affects many people around the world. One of the complications of chronic lung disease is severe water retention in body. Let’s take a look at the lung and its functions to better understand what causes water retention in patients with chronic lung disease.


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Every cell in our body needs oxygen in order to stay healthy and function properly. They must take in oxygen and give off carbon dioxide. This is achieved through the respiratory and circulatory system. The lungs perform essential roles during this process.

We have two lungs, the left and the right. The left is divided into two lobes and the right into three lobes. The air first enters the respiratory system through the mouth and the nose. It then passes through the pharynx (cavity behind the nose and mouth), larynx (hollow organ in the throat holding the vocal cords), trachea (windpipe that enters the chest cavity), then into the left and right bronchi. These bronchi branches and re-branches into bronchioles which then terminates in a cluster of alveoli; the tiny air sac in the lung; The lungs contain about 600 million of these tiny air sacs that are surrounded by capillaries. This is where the oxygen exchange actually takes place.

The lungs receive deoxygenated blood from the heart through pulmonary artery, exchange it with fresh oxygenated blood and return it to the heart through pulmonary veins to be pumped out throughout the body. With each breath, the lungs receive oxygen and remove carbon dioxide.

The lungs are also important in fighting infection and other harmful environmental factors. The lungs produce mucus; sticky fluid; which help in trapping smoke, pollution, bacteria, viruses and other harmful materials. Mucus also helps the lung’s protective white blood cells to overcome and destruct bacteria and harmful materials.

Severe chronic lung diseases may restrict the blood flow through the blood vessels in the lungs. This will increase pressure in the blood vessels and cause the blood backs up into the heart and other parts of the body. The blood then leak into the surrounding tissues thus causes severe water retention in body such as pulmonary edema, abdominal fluid retention, fluid retention in legs and feet, swelling in the ankles and hands, etc.

In addition, certain chronic lung disease might cause the lung capillaries becomes leakier and lead to severe water retention in body (even without the increase pressure in the vessels).