Edema is the swelling of the body. It can be localized in one area or be generalized. Even though it affects every part of the human body, the swelling is more noticeable in the hands, feet, face, legs and ankles. Edema is usually a response of the body to an injury or inflammation. Swelling results from excess fluid trapped in the tissues.
What Causes Edema?
There are many conditions and medical diseases that can cause an edema.
Siting or staying in one position for too long
Eating salty food - salt causes fluid retention in the body
Pregnancy - the increased abdominal pressure interferes with the lymphatic system and the drainage, so fluids are more likely to build up on the foot and legs.
Premenstrual signs and symptoms - due to increased levels of estrogen.
Use of medication - high blood pressure medications, estrogens, steroids, and many others.
Allergic reaction - edema accompanies most allergic reactions.
Hypoalbuminemia - low albumin levels will allow the fluid to pass from the bloodstream to the surrounded tissue causing edema.
Congestive heart failure is a heart condition in which the heart pump doesn't function normally and the fluid can slowly build up, causing first edema of the feet and legs.
Cirrhosis is a liver disease. Cirrhosis leads to fluid retention, low levels of albumin and other proteins, which causes ascites (the presence of free fluid in abdomen) and leg edema.
Kidney diseases - edema due to kidney diseases occurs around the eyes and on the legs.
Signs And Symptoms Of Edema?
Signs and symptoms of edema depend on the affected area and its size.
With food allergies, edema of the tongue and throat will occur. This could be life threatening.
If the fluid gets collected in the lungs, especially in a very short time, pulmonary edema will occur, which is also a life threatening condition.
If edema occurs in the arm from an insect bite, the swelling of the affected area will be accompanied by pain, tense skin, limited movement, and other symptoms.
If edema of the leg occurs for any reason, there will be walking problems.
Pulmonary edemas are characterized by shortness of breath and difficulties breathing.
Edema in general is characterized by:
- Swelling of the tissue directly under the skin
- Stretched or shiny skin
- Skin that retains finger prints after being pressed for several seconds
- Increased abdominal size in ascites
How Is Edema Treated?
Treatment of edema depends on its cause, and treatment of the underlying condition is generally required.
Food allergies and insect bites can be treated with antihistamines and corticosteroides.
In congestive heart failure, kidney diseases, cirrhosis and pulmonary edemas among other medications to treat these conditions, diuretics like Lasix are used. Diuretics help eliminate the amount of water collected in the tissues of the body.
A diet without salt is also recommended.
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