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What to Do If Your Body Starts Retaining Water

by
author image Shannon Leigh O'Neil
Shannon Leigh O'Neil, a New York City-based arts and culture writer, has been writing professionally since 2008. Her articles have appeared in "GO Magazine," "The New York Blade" and "HX Magazine," as well as online media. O'Neil holds a Master of Arts in modern art history from the City College of New York, where she also studied French and minored in classical languages.
What to Do If Your Body Starts Retaining Water
Eating potassium-rich foods like bananas can help relieve symptoms of water retention. Photo Credit Zedcor Wholly Owned/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images

Retaining water is a medical condition called edema, in which excess fluid accumulates within bodily tissues. While there are multiple possible causes of edema, you should report any noticeable water retention to your doctor. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, edema can be a symptom of serious health problems involving the cardiovascular system, thyroid, liver or kidneys.

Diuretics

Diuretics, also called water pills, work by flushing excess fluid out of the body.You should use a diuretic only under medical supervision, whether you are taking prescription or over-the-counter diuretics. If you have a heart condition or high blood pressure, there may be an effective therapy that includes a diuretic to manage your condition. Although they are effective, diuretic drugs can cause frequent urination, dizziness, palpitations, allergic reactions and other side effects, according to MedlinePlus. While taking diuretics, you must get regular health checkups to monitor your potassium levels and kidney function.

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Compression Garments

Compression garments such as bandages, stockings and sleeves may be an effective treatment for water retention in the extremities. Wearing these tight elastic garments over swollen limbs aids the absorption of fluid into the body. You can buy support stockings and other compression garments over the counter at most pharmacies.

Exercise

Standing or sitting for extended periods can cause edema, resulting in swelling of the ankles and feet. Light exercise such as walking helps relieve fluid retention, especially in the lower body. Try to exercise five days per week, but do not engage in strenuous or physically challenging exercise if you suffer from severe edema. Avoid sitting or standing for a long time without changing positions. Get up and move around at regular intervals. According to the Huntsman Cancer Institute, you should also rest and elevate your feet whenever possible.

Diet

If you are retaining water, you can help relieve the symptoms by choosing foods that are rich in potassium and low in sodium. These foods include bananas, avocados and potatoes. Diet is particularly important if you use diuretics, according to Fort Valley State University, because there is a loss of potassium when excess fluid is flushed out of the body. In addition to eating potassium-rich foods, drink plenty of water and reduce your salt intake. Increase your consumption of unprocessed, nutrient-dense, natural foods while eliminating refined foods like white bread, pasta, sugary cereals and baked goods. Certain fruits and vegetables have a beneficial diuretic effect; they include pineapple, leafy greens, asparagus, leeks and parsley. Adding a multivitamin to your daily diet is also helpful. Choose a multivitamin that includes vitamin C and minerals such as calcium, magnesium and zinc.

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