Edema is the swelling caused by the accumulation of fluid in the tissues of your body. Although edema may be affecting any part of your body, you might feel it more prominently on your arms, hands, ankles, feet, and legs.

Edema may be caused by medications, pregnancy, an underlying illness, usually kidney disease, or liver cirrhosis.

Utilizing a medication to eliminate excess fluid and reduce the amount of sodium in your diet can help reduce the symptoms of edema. However, if edema is the sign of an underlying illness causing it, the sickness itself needs special treatment.

Symptoms of Edema

Edema symptoms include:

  • The swelling or puffiness of the tissues directly beneath your skin, and especially in your arms or legs
  • Skin with shiny or stretched
  • Skin that has dimples (pits) after being squeezed for a few minutes
  • The abdominal area is growing

When is the best time to visit a doctor?

Set an appointment with your physician if you experience swelling, shiny or stretched skin, or skin that has an enlarged dimple following pressure (pitting). Consult your physician immediately when you notice:

They could be signs of pulmonary edema, which needs urgent treatment.

Sitting for an extended period, like during a long flight, and you feel leg swelling and pain that doesn’t subside, contact your physician. Persistent swelling and pain in your legs could signal a deep blood clot within the vein (deep vein thrombosis, also known as DVT).

Causes of Edema

Edema is caused when the body’s tiny blood vessels (capillaries) release fluid. The fluid accumulates in the tissues around it, leading to swelling.

Mild edema may be the result of:

  • The act of sitting or occupying a place for too long
  • Too many salty foods
  • Premenstrual symptoms, including a rash
  • Being pregnant

Edema may also be an adverse effect of certain medications, such as:

In certain instances, the edema could indicate a serious medical issue.

Many conditions and illnesses can cause edema, such as:

  • The heart fails congestive. If you suffer from congestive heart problems either or both lower chambers of your heart aren’t pumping blood efficiently. It means that blood can build up in your legs, feet, and ankles, causing swelling and edema. The condition can cause abdominal swelling. In some cases, this condition may result in fluid accumulation in the lung (pulmonary edema) and could cause breathing problems.
  • Cirrhosis. Fluid may accumulate in the abdomen (ascites) and your legs due to damaged liver (cirrhosis).
  • Kidney Disease. Excess sodium and fluids in your circulation can lead to swelling when you have kidney disease. The edema is associated with kidney disease, which occurs in your legs and the area around your eyes.
  • Kidney problems. Damage to the tiny blood vessels that filter blood in your kidneys may cause nephrotic syndrome. In nephrotic disorders, the declining quantities of the protein (albumin) in the blood could cause an accumulation of fluids and swelling.
  • Inflammation or damage to the veins within your legs. If you have chronic venous insufficiency or ailment, the one-way valves of your leg veins have been damaged or damaged, which causes blood to collect in the veins of your legs and can cause swelling. The sudden onset of swelling on one leg that is accompanied by pain in the calf muscles could be caused by an enlargement of blood (deep vein thrombosis or DVT) within one of the veins in your legs. If this happens, you should seek medical attention immediately. 
  • A weak lymphatic system. Your body’s lymphatic system assists in removing extra fluids from your tissues. If the lymphatic system is damaged — as in through cancer surgery, the lymph nodes and vessels that drain a region may not function correctly, and edema may develop.
  • A long-term, severe lack of protein. A severe deficiency in protein intake over an extended period of time can result in the accumulation of fluids as well as swelling.

Risk factors

If you are expecting, the body will store greater amounts of sodium and water than is normal because of the fluid required by the fetus and the placenta, which could increase the chance of developing edema.

It can elevate your risk of developing edema. If you are taking certain medicines, for example:

A chronic illness like congestive heart failure or kidney or liver disease increases the chance of developing edema. Additionally, surgery may obstruct a lymph node which causes swelling of a leg or arm, generally in one area.

Complications

If not treated, edema can lead to:

  • A painful swelling that is increasing
  • Walking is difficult
  • Stiffness
  • Skin that is stretched may cause itching and discomfort
  • An increased risk of infection in the area of swelling
  • Scarring of tissues between layers
  • A decrease in blood circulation
  • Reduced elasticity of arteries and joints, veins, and muscles
  • The risk of skin ulcers increasing

Diagnosis of Edema

To determine what is causing your edema, your doctor will then conduct a physical examination and ask you questions regarding your medical background. The information you provide is often sufficient to identify the root causes of the swelling. In certain cases, ultrasound, X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging, urine tests, or blood tests might be required.

Treatment of Edema

  • Mild edema usually disappears in its own time, but it can be helped when you can help by elevating the affected limb above your heart.
  • More severe edema can be treated by using medications that assist your body in flushing out excess fluid in the urinary tract (diuretics). A popular diuretic that is used for this is furosemide (Lasix). But, your physician will determine if these kinds of medicines are a suitable choice for you depending on your medical background.
  • The long-term approach usually concentrates on treating the root causes of swelling. If edema develops due to medication, the doctor could alter the dosage or suggest another medication that does not cause edema.
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