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Edema (Edema): Symptoms, Types, Causes, and Treatment

What is Edema?

Oedema or Edema is a swelling caused by excess fluid that is trapped in the body’s tissues. It can affect any part of the body but it is more noticeable in your feet, arms, ankles, legs, and hands. This condition can be a result of your medication, pregnancy, or any underlying health condition. 

Fluid often leaks into your body tissues from the blood. The lymphatic system is a network of tubes throughout the body that drains fluid. Fluid retention occurs when the fluid is not removed from the tissues. The two categories of this condition include:

  • Generalized. A swelling occurs throughout the body.
  • Localized. A particular part of the body is affected.

Symptoms of Oedema or Edema

  • Swelling or puffiness of the tissue directly under your skin.
  • Swelling in your legs or arms
  • Shiny or stretched skin
  • Skin that retains a dimple patch after pressing
  • Increased abdominal size

See your doctor if you experience any of the following:

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath

Other Types of Oedema or Edema

  • Peripheral- the fluid builds up in your arms, feet, hands, and legs
  • Pulmonary- the fluid builds up in your lungs due to heart failure
  • Cerebral- fluid builds up around your brain that may lead to stroke or brain infection
  • Ascites- build-up of fluid in the stomach that is often caused by liver disease
  • Lymphodema– build-up of fluid caused by damage to your lymph channel

What are the Causes of Oedema or Edema?

Mild causes of this disease are a result from:

  • Sitting or staying in one position for too long
  • Eating too many salty foods
  • Having PMS 
  • Pregnancy

Some medications also cause this fluid build up such as:

  • High blood pressure medications 
  • NSAIDs
  • Estrogen
  • Steroid drugs
  • Certain types of diabetic medications

Diseases that may cause this condition are:

  1. Congestive heart failure. If you have congestive heart failure, one or both of your heart’s lower chambers cannot pump blood effectively. As a result, blood can back up in your legs, ankles, and feet. Congestive heart failure can also cause swelling in your abdomen.
  2. Long-term and severe protein deficiency. An extreme lack of protein in your diet over a long period of time can lead to fluid accumulation and edema.
  3. Weakness or damage to veins in your legs. If you have chronic venous insufficiency, the one-way valves in your leg veins are weakened or damaged, which allows blood to pool in your leg veins and causes swelling. 
  4. Kidney disease. The extra fluid and sodium caused by kidney disease may cause fluid retention. It typically occurs in your legs around your eyes.
  5. Cirrhosis. Fluid may accumulate in your abdominal cavity and in your legs as a result of liver damage.
  6. Inadequate lymphatic system. Your body’s lymphatic system helps clear excess fluid from tissues. If this system is damaged the lymph nodes and lymph vessels draining an area may not work correctly, and fluid retention can occur.

Treatment, Management, and Prevention of Oedema or Edema

Mild edema usually goes away on its own, particularly if you help things along by raising the affected limb higher than your heart. More severe edema may be treated with diuretics that help your body expel excess fluid in the form of urine. If the fluid retention is caused by medication use, your doctor may adjust your prescription or check for an alternative medication that doesn’t cause retention.

The recommended prescription for this disease is Amiloride Hydrochlorothiazide. It controls swelling caused by water retention. This medication is given especially to patients with conditions in the heart.

Lifestyle and Home Remedies of Oedema (Edema)

  1. Movement. Moving and using the muscles in the part of your affected body may help pump the excess fluid back toward your heart.
  2. Elevation. Hold the swollen part of your body above the level of your heart several times a day. Elevating the affected body part while you sleep may be helpful.
  3. Massage. Stroking the affected area toward your heart using firm, but not painful, pressure may help move the excess fluid out of that area.
  4. Compression. If one of your limbs is affected by retention, your doctor may recommend you wear compression stockings, sleeves, or gloves, usually worn after your swelling has gone down, to prevent further swelling from occurring.
  5. Reduce salt intake. Follow your doctor’s suggestions about limiting how much salt you consume. Salt can increase fluid retention and worsen fluid retention.

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