Edema happens when your feet, legs, hands or even your abdomen swell from a buildup of excess fluid. There are many causes of edema, including medication, pregnancy or a chronic disease.
Drinking more water isn't suggested as a remedy for edema. You should limit the salt in your diet. Elevation of your legs often helps reduce swelling.
Water Retention Symptoms
If you have edema, you may be wondering, "Will drinking more water help reduce my edema?" But drinking more water to flush out the excess fluid buildup isn't recommended, as long as you take in an adequate amount of water, suggests MedlinePlus. Instead, if you have edema, you should avoid drinking too much liquid.
Edema causes parts of your body to retain water, instead of flushing it out. It's a very uncomfortable condition. The Mayo Clinic says it happens when your capillaries, or small blood vessels, leak fluid. That fluid builds up in surrounding tissues.
If you have edema, you'll see an indentation in your skin when you slowly press your thumb into it. Your skin will stretch over the affected area and look shiny. You'll want to see your doctor to learn the cause and the best way to treat it.
Causes of Edema
You can get a mild case of edema from standing, sitting or staying in one place too long, from eating too much salty food or from premenstrual effects. Other causes, according to Rush University Medical Center, are:
- Heart failure
- Kidney disease or damage
- Cirrhosis of the liver
- Chronic venous insufficiency (weak or damaged veins in your legs)
- Deep vein thrombosis (clots in the leg or legs)
- Lymph node problems
Edema will usually cause water retention symptoms that cause swelling in your feet, ankles, legs, arms and face. It can, however, affect any part of your body, including your head.
There is also a type of edema that can result from fluid overload, according to a report in the August 2015 issue of Nutrition Reviews. The authors concluded that it's important to maintain a proper hydration balance. Overdoing hydration can be as bad as taking in too little liquid.
What to Do for Edema
It's important to fix the cause of your fluid buildup. There are some things you can do on your own to treat mild edema. The Mayo Clinic suggests raising the affected part of your body above your heart several times a day. Eat a low-salt diet to help cleanse your body of excess fluid.
If you're pregnant and your feet or ankles are swelling, elevate your legs to increase blood flow, but avoid lying on your back, says Harvard Health Publishing. If you have weak or damaged veins, wear compression or support socks. For any type of edema, don't sit or stand in one position too long.
If your edema is caused by congestive heart failure, watch your weight, fluid and salt intake and cut down on excess alcohol, says the Cleveland Clinic. If you smoke and your edema is caused by lung disease, you should quit smoking.
When to See a Doctor
If you suspect you have edema, one of the first things you should do is see your doctor, the Mayo Clinic advises. If your edema won't go away after you've tried to raise your swollen body part, wear support hose and limit your salt intake. Your doctor may prescribe a diuretic.
Diuretics, or water pills, will help your body get rid of fluid through urine. Your doctor will help you decide whether you should take a diuretic and which one you should take.
You should also learn the underlying cause of your edema so you and your doctor can work out the right treatment approach. For most people, Harvard Health Publishing says, edema can be successfully treated.
- MedlinePlus: "Water in Diet"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Edema: What Is It?"
- Mayo Clinic: "Edema: Symptoms and Causes"
- Rush University Medical Center: "Edema"
- Nutrition Reviews: "Acute and Chronic Effects of Hydration Status on Health"
- Mayo Clinic: "Edema: Diagnosis and Treatment"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Edema: Overview"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Edema: Management and Treatment"