Edema (or Oedema) is the abnormal accumulation of fluid in certain tissues within the body. The accumulation of fluid may be under the skin - usually in dependent areas such as the legs (peripheral edema, or ankle edema), or it may accumulate in the lungs (pulmonary edema). The location of edema can provide the health care practitioner the first clues in regard to the underlying cause of the fluid accumulation.
The balance and regulation of fluid in the body is very complex. In short, the cause of edema as simply defined as possible, is that tiny blood vessels in the body (capillaries) leak fluid into the surrounding tissues. This excess fluid causes the tissues to swell.
The cause of fluid leaking into the surrounding tissues may be the result of several mechanisms, for example:
too much force, or pressure inside the blood vessels;
a force outside of the blood vessel causes the fluid to be drawn through it; or
the wall of the blood vessel is compromised and cannot maintain equilibrium.
Each of these three mechanisms may be associated with a variety of diseases or conditions. Examples include the following.
Pregnancy: Edema during pregnancy may occur because pregnant women have a greater volume of fluid circulating in the body, and because they also retain more fluid. A woman may also experience postpartum edema.
Medications: Edema may be caused by a variety of medications, for example, steroids, calcium channel blockers (CCBs), thiazolidinediones, nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), estrogens, etc.).
Liver disease and/or kidney disease: Both of these organs are vital in maintaining fluid balance in the body, and if severe disease is present in either of these organ systems, edema can develop. Examples include: cirrhosis of the liver, chronic kidney disease, and acute kidney failure.
Venous insufficiency: This is a common condition in which blood does not return to the heart efficiently from the peripheral areas of the body (for example, the ankles, legs, feet, hands), which results in edema. This typically results in edema in both legs.
Heart failure: If the heart is weak and cannot pump blood efficiently, blood will pool in particular areas of the body, which will cause fluid to leak from the blood vessels into the surrounding tissues.
Symptoms of peripheral edema include swelling of the affected area(s), which causes the surrounding skin to "tighten." The swelling from peripheral edema is gravity-dependent (it will increase or decrease with changes in body position). For example, if a person is lying on their back (supine), the swelling will not appear in the legs, but will appear in the area around the sacrum. The skin over the swollen area appears tight and shiny, and often when pressure is applied to the area with a finger, an indentation appears. This is called pitting edema.
Home Remedies for edema are:
Go into deep water: Exercising in the swimming pool will be an excellent remedy for curing this problem. This is due to the water pressure forcing out the excess water out of the tissues and into the bladder. It is advised to exercise gently in the pool at the temperature of 80 to 90 degrees F. If you are pregnant, avoid water above 100 degrees.
Avoid diuretics: Though diuretics are effective for the flushing out of excess water in the people with the heart, kidney or liver disease, they can also cause rebound edema. Continuous usage will activate the salt and water retaining hormones and when stopped, these hormones are activated and cause water retention.
Minimize salt intake: Avoid foods high in salt like hotdogs, burgers, pizzas etc. They contain very high salt content and the fluid released will remain in the body till kidneys have a chance to excrete them which is about 24 hours.
Exercise continuously: Exercise has been shown to reduce the water retention by flushing out the water and salt through sweating, higher respiration and increased urine flow. If you have been sitting for a long time, walk up and down or climb stairs every hour. You can also try the following exercise: point the toes downward, then raise them up as high as possible which pumps up the calf and foot muscles. You can also raise your hands up overhead.
Increase fluid intake: Water moves through the kidneys and bladder thus diluting the urine. It becomes easier for the kidneys to flush diluted urine out along with the salt contained in it. Plain water is the best option, since juices, sodas and colas have salt content.
Find powerful herbal remedies Home Remedies for Edema
Sip on the herbal tea: Many herbs are slightly diuretic. Parsley is the best known one. Take two teaspoons of dried leaves for each cup of boiling water and seep for ten minutes. Drink three cups a day.
Lie down with feet up: Recline with the feet up in the raised position. This will allow the fluid collected in the legs to go to the circulatory systems and from there to the kidneys for excretion.
If these tips do not work or if you have heart and kidney problems consult a doctor. You can also consult a doctor if you have a pitting edema where an indentation remains when you press the skin.