Edema

Table of Contents

What is Edema?

Edema is swelling due to fluid trapped in your body’s tissues. It can affect any part of the body, but most often in the feet, ankles, and hands.

In addition, edema can also be caused due to medication, pregnancy, or an underlying disease, such as congestive heart failure, kidney disease, or cirrhosis.

Edema can be treated with medications to remove a build-up of fluid and lower sodium levels in foods. If it is a sign of underlying disease, you may require separate treatment.

Causes of Edema

Edema occurs when an excessive volume of fluid builds up in the tissues (within capillaries) – which then causes swelling. Causes of mild edema include:

  • Pregnancy
  • Consumption of too much salty foods
  • Signs and symptoms of PMS
  • Sitting or staying in one position for too long

It may also be triggered as a side effect of certain medications, including:

  • Estrogen
  • High blood pressure medications
  • Steroid drugs
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Certain diabetes medications, such as thiazolidinediones

In some cases, edema may be a sign of a more serious underlying medical condition. Some diseases and conditions that can cause it may include:

  • Cirrhosis
  • Kidney disease
  • Kidney failure 
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Lymphatic system disorders
  • Severe long-term protein deficiency
  • Weakness or damage to veins in your legs.

When to See Doctor for Edema

Talk to your internist if you have symptoms of edema. To diagnose your condition, your doctor will first perform a physical exam and ask a number of questions regarding your medical history. This is done to determine the cause.

In some cases, an X-ray, ultrasound exam, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), blood test, or urine analysis may be needed to determine the cause of the edema.

After that, your doctor may suggest treatment options and prescribe medications based on the condition.

Edema Symptoms

Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Increased abdominal size 
  • Stretched or shiny skin
  • Swelling of the tissue right under the skin, especially in the legs or arms
  • Skin appears to form dimples for a few seconds

Make an appointment with an internal doctor in Malaysia if you experience swelling in your skin and show any of the above symptoms. Talk to your doctor immediately if you experience the following symptoms, as they can be a sign of new edema, including:

  • Chest pain.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing.

If you sit for a long time, such as on a long flight, and you experience persistent leg pain and swelling, call your doctor. Persistent pain and swelling in your legs may indicate deep vein thrombosis.

Edema Treatment

Mild edema can usually go away on its own, especially if you lift the affected body part higher than your heart. This may speed up the healing process.

Severe edema can be treated with medications that help your body remove excess fluid through urine (diuretics). One of the most common diuretics is furosemide (Lasix). However, your doctor will determine if this type of medication is best for you based on your personal medical history.

Long-term treatment usually focuses on the cause of the swelling. If edema occurs from taking medications, your doctor may adjust the prescription or suggest alternative treatments that do not cause it.

Each edema condition may require different treatment. Consult with an internist at home and abroad through Smarter Health.

Treatment Cost

Treatment cost for edema will depend on the diagnosis method chosen, the cost of treatment and medication, hospital, and your choice of internist.

Your doctor may perform an X-ray, MRI, ultrasound exam, blood test, or urine analysis may be needed to determine the cause.

To calculate the estimated cost of treatments at home and abroad, contact Smarter Health.

Prevention of Edema

You may not completely prevent edema, but it depends on the cause. If it is caused by medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, liver disease, or kidney disease – you may only be able to manage the swelling.

To help prevent edema, your doctor may recommend that you stay physically active and limit your salt intake. In addition, take the following steps to prevent it:

  • Raise your legs when sitting or lying down
  • Limit your salt intake
  • Wear compression stockings if you have edema in your legs
  • Move around as much as possible. Avoid sitting or standing for long periods without moving

Any underlying disease or condition requires treatment to prevent it from becoming more serious.

Home Remedies

Below are some self-care measures to help reduce symptoms of edema and prevent recurrent symptoms. Consult your doctor for further details. 

  • Move and use the muscles in the part of the body affected by edema, especially your legs, to help pump the excess fluid toward your heart. Ask your doctor about exercises you can do to reduce swelling.
  • Hold the swollen part of your body in a position higher than your heart several times a day. In some cases, elevating the affected body part during sleep may help reduce symptoms.
  • Stroke the affected area against the heart using firm, but painless, pressure. This may help drain out excess fluid from the area.
  • If any of your limbs have edema, your doctor may recommend wearing compression stockings, sleeves, or gloves. You can wear them after your swelling has subsided to prevent further swelling from occurring. These garments keep pressure on your limbs and prevent fluid from collecting in the tissues.
  • Keep the affected area clean, moisturized, and free from injury. Dry, cracked skin is more prone to scratches, cuts, and infections. Always wear protection on your feet if swelling often occurs there
  • Follow your doctor’s suggestions about limiting your daily salt intake, as salt can increase fluid retention and worsen edema.

See your doctor immediately if you experience chest pain, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing along with other signs and symptoms of edema. 

Book an appointment with internists at home and abroad through Smarter Health if you have symptoms of edema.

Smarter Health‘s online consultation (teleconsultation) service allows you to seek medical treatment whenever you need it without having to leave the house – thus minimizing the spread of COVID-19.

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