What is Edema?

21 Dec What is Edema?

About Edema

Edema is the medical term for swelling. It is caused by a buildup of fluid in your tissues. Edema can affect any part of the body, but it is most noticeable when it is in your hands, ankles, or feet. Edema could be the symptom of an underlying medical condition, so getting the right diagnosis is key.

Symptoms of Edema

Edema can affect any part of the body. Some common symptoms include:

• Swelling
• Stretched or shiny skin
• Dimples or pits that remain on the skin when you press it
• Stiffness in toes
• Difficulty walking

In severe cases, especially of pulmonary edema, you may also experience shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. That doesn’t usually happen with edema of the feet.

What Causes Edema?

Edema happens when your capillaries—tiny blood vessels that carry blood to your heart—leak fluid. Damage to these capillaries can have many causes, including:

• Sedentary lifestyle
• Pregnancy
• Premenstrual syndrome
• Injury to the area
• Certain medications, including medicines for high blood pressure, hormone therapies, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications

Edema could also be a symptom of a more serious disease like kidney disease or heart failure. It’s important to see your doctor to rule out these more serious conditions.

Treatment Options

If your edema is caused by pregnancy, medications, or an underlying condition, a doctor can make recommendations about treatment options for those conditions. You may need to switch medications, for instance, or change the dosage.

The mildest edema goes away on its own. To speed recovery, follow these self-care tips.

• Keep your feet or the other affected limbs raised up as often as possible. Try to keep them raised higher than your heart to boost circulation and strengthen the capillaries.
• Cut down on salt, which can cause fluid retention.
• Get regular exercise.
• If you have an underlying condition, learn how to manage it.

When to See a Doctor

If your symptoms last more than a week or are severe, contact your podiatrist. In more severe cases, your doctor will prescribe drugs that help your body get rid of excess fluid. These drugs are also known as diuretics.

Prevention Tips

You can avoid edema by maintaining good overall health and exercising regularly. Your diet can have a big effect on your body’s ability to expel fluids.

• Eat foods rich in vitamin B, including whole grains, spinach, and kale.
• Eat iron-rich foods like dark leafy greens.
• Pumpkins, grapes, beets, asparagus, and pineapple are natural diuretics.
• Increase your intake of potassium-rich foods.
• Avoid canned foods and bottled drinks that are high in sodium.
• Limit processed grains, canned beans, and processed meats like lunch meats, bacon, and hot dogs.

Call Us to Learn More

If you’re experiencing swelling or other troubling foot symptoms, contact Shuman Podiatry & Sports Medicine. We provide up-to-date care to customers all over Loudoun County.

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