October 3, 2023

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Edema: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

Edema is a medical term for swelling resulting from fluid accumulation in your tissues, often in your legs, ankles, and feet. While these are the commonly affected areas, edema can affect other body parts, including your face, hands, and abdomen. If you have edema, Tsegaw E Egziti M.D will perform a physical exam and other diagnostic tests to establish the cause. Read on to learn more about edema.

Edema symptoms

Swelling is a classic symptom of edema. You can easily tell when a part of your body is swollen since it gets bigger than usual. Besides swelling, other symptoms and signs of edema include:

  • Stretched and shiny skin over the swollen area
  • Difficulty walking due to swollen legs, ankles, and feet
  • Coughing or trouble breathing
  • Pain or soreness in the affected area

What causes edema?

There are many possible causes for an edema diagnosis. They include:

  • Venous insufficiency. When you have weak or damaged valves, blood pools in the veins instead of flowing to the heart. As a result, the veins stretch and enlarge, and your legs and feet may swell.
  • Gravity. Water naturally pulls into your arms, legs, and feet when you sit or stand in one place for too long.
  • Medication side effects. Medicines used for hypertension may cause swelling. Some pain management medications also have edema as a side effect.
  • Underlying health problems. Medical conditions such as heart failure, kidney, lung, thyroid, and liver disease have edema as one of their symptoms.
  • Pregnancy. During pregnancy, the uterus puts pressure on the blood vessels in the lower trunk of your body and may cause swelling in your legs.

Treatment for edema

There are various treatments for edema, but the one your doctor recommends depends on the cause. This is especially true if the reason is related to an underlying condition. For example:

  • If you have edema resulting from lung diseases such as chronic bronchitis or emphysema, your healthcare provider will recommend quitting smoking if you smoke.
  • Sometimes edema may be a side effect of a medication you are taking. In such cases, your doctor may stop or reduce the dosage of your prescription to minimize the swelling.
  • Edema that occurs with chronic heart failure requires lifestyle adjustments. For example, you may need to reduce the amount of alcohol you drink.

How can I prevent edema?

Whether you can or can prevent edema depends on the cause. You cannot prevent edema from underlying health problems like heart failure, kidney, or liver disease. However, you can work with your healthcare provider to manage the symptoms. If you have edema due to excess salt intake, minimizing sodium-rich foods can help prevent the problem.

Other effective ways to prevent or relieve edema include moving around more frequently. When you sit or stand for a long time without moving, fluid builds up in your tissues, causing swelling. If you notice that you have been in one position for a long time, get up and walk around to reduce the likelihood of swelling.

If you have swollen legs, visit your healthcare provider at Houston Kidney Specialists Center for diagnosis to establish the cause of your edema.

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