A List of Autoimmune Water Retention Diseases

Autoimmune diseases are ailments that cause harm to your immune system and often attack different organs. If you suffer from any of these diseases, maintaining keen awareness of what symptoms you could experience is imperative for staying healthy. Water retention is one such side effect that causes bothersome, and sometimes painful, swelling in the body due to excess fluid buildup. This common symptom is associated with various autoimmune diseases.

Consult your doctor if you experience fluid retention or any other symptom associated with your autoimmune disease. Credit: lekcej/iStock/Getty Images

Cirrhosis of the Liver

One of cirrhosis of the liver's major symptoms is water retention. According to the American Liver Foundation, or ALF, those who experience this fluid buildup will suffer acute pain due to swelling in their legs and abdomen. Cirrhosis of the liver is a serious and potentially fatal condition that can eventually cause liver failure. This affliction does not occur on its own, as any disease that inflicts long-term inflammation and damage to the liver can cause cirrhosis. The ALF cites chronic alcoholism as the leading cause of cirrhosis in America, because the liver works to break alcohol down into toxic chemicals, leading to inflammation. On the ALF website, cirrhosis is defined as a term that refers to non-living scar tissue replacing normal liver tissue. As this condition continues killing the healthy tissue, the liver becomes unable to function and shuts down. Doctors can often treat cirrhosis of the liver and stop or slow the progression of the disease. However, survival can sometimes require surgery or a liver transplant.


Fluid retention is often the first noticeable symptom of one form of lupus called lupus nephritis, according to the Lupus Foundation of America, or LFA. The water buildup causes painful swelling and weight gain. This condition can be dangerous and has very few symptoms. Protein escapes the kidneys and is eliminated from the body through urination. As the body loses high amounts of protein, your body will retain excess fluid and you will experience swelling in your legs, hands and feet. According to the LFA, lupus nephritis varies in severity. Some patients experience inconsequential symptoms that do not require treatment. Other patients may show more prominent signs of kidney affliction requiring further tests to determine what treatment is needed to prevent kidney failure or loss of function.

Acute Nephritic Syndrome

According to Medline Plus, acute nephritic syndrome is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the kidneys. This is another condition that typically results from other ailments. The kidney swelling that occurs in those that suffer from acute nephritic syndrome causes damage to the section of the kidneys that filters waste. Because of this, protein is lost through urination, causing severe fluid retention and swelling throughout the body. Blood may also appear in the urine, due to blood loss from the damaged kidneys. Medline Plus cites acute nephritic syndrome as a potential cause for high blood pressure, swelling between the cells of kidney tissue and even kidney failure.

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