Gold Member Badge


  • You're all caught up!

The Causes of Retaining Water

author image Nicki Howell
Nicki Howell started her professional writing career in 2002, specializing in areas such as health, fitness and personal finance. She has been published at health care websites, such as HealthTree, and is a ghostwriter for a variety of small health care organizations. She earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration from Portland State University.
The Causes of Retaining Water
Rule out underlying causes of water retention with your doctor.

Water retention is caused by fluid build up in body tissues, according to MedlinePlus. This condition is also called edema. The legs, ankles and feet are prone to water retention. However, this problem can occur anywhere in the body. For most people, water retention isn’t a serious medical concern. However, there is a small chance that water retention is caused by underlying medical issues.

Video of the Day

Medicine and Water Retention

Medications can cause water retention. For example, drugs that focus on opening the blood vessels, called vasodilators, may cause this health issue. Calcium channel blockers, also called calcium antagonists, are another possible cause, according to the Mayo Clinic. Other medications with water retention side effects include estrogens and thiazolidinediones, which are used to treat diabetes.

Hormonal Causes

Hormones also play a role in water retention. This is a common problem during a women’s menstrual cycle. Women are also more susceptible to water retention during pregnancy, causing swelling of the feet, hands and face. If you experience water retention during pregnancy, consult your doctor. This problem can be serious in pregnant women.

Serious Causes of Water Retention

Although less common, there are serious underlying causes of water retention. For example, kidney disease may cause this health issue. Your body isn’t able to eliminate enough fluids and sodium, causing the body to retain water. If you have kidney issues, water retention usually occurs around the eyes and legs.

An inadequate lymphatic system also causes water retention. This health concern is usually caused by infection or cancer. As a result, the lymph nodes and vessels aren’t draining correctly, resulting in water retention.

Treating Water Retention

The first step in treating water retention is consulting your doctor. She can rule out a serious medical issue and recommend the proper treatment. Decreasing salt intake can assist with reducing water retention. Massaging the affected area and applying gentle pressure can encourage excess fluid to move. Getting plenty of movement in the area of the body that’s affected is also helpful.

Your doctor might also prescribe a diuretic, such as thiazide diuretics or spironolactone, which causes your kidney to increase the amount of water put out. If water retention is a medication side-effect, your doctor might try a different drug for treatment.

LiveStrong Calorie Tracker
Lose Weight. Feel Great! Change your life with MyPlate by LIVESTRONG.COM
  • Gain 2 pounds per week
  • Gain 1.5 pounds per week
  • Gain 1 pound per week
  • Gain 0.5 pound per week
  • Maintain my current weight
  • Lose 0.5 pound per week
  • Lose 1 pound per week
  • Lose 1.5 pounds per week
  • Lose 2 pounds per week
  • Female
  • Male
ft. in.


Demand Media