Edema also known as oedema is an abnormal accumulation of fluid in one or more cavities of the body beneath the skin. It is an abnormal swelling caused by excessive fluid retention. This swelling often occurs in the legs, arms, ankles, feet and hands. The swelling is also linked to lymphatic and venous systems and can be termed as hydropsy or dropsy oedema. Edema can also be generalized or local. This is because the disease can develop over time and is often accompanied by weight gain and puffy eyes when you wake up among other symptoms. The disease can also appear suddenly with no long term symptoms and it presents itself in many ways. This includes peripheral edema and eye edema. Eye edema affects in and around the eyes. It is characterized with puffiness around the eyes.
Causes of Edema
Edema often occurs when capillaries leak fluid to any surrounding tissue. The area will then start to swell because of increased pressure and capillary damage. When blood vessels leak, normal functions of the kidney may be interfered with. The kidney will then accumulate higher amounts of salt and water to compensate for any lost fluid. This means that there will be high blood circulation in the body causing more leakage into any surrounding tissue. This will also mean there will be more swelling and is popularly known as vicious cycle.
- The disease is also caused by physical inactivity. If you do not exercise on regular basis, there are high chances of developing edema. The disease is even more prevalent on people who do not exercise at all or walk very little on daily basis.
- Sitting down for long hours also exposes you to edema. If you also stand for long hours, there are high chances that blood capillaries will leak thus, causing edema.
- Swelling can also occur after a surgical procedure
- Research additionally reveals that genes play a crucial role in corneal edema
- High altitude can cause pulmonary edema when combined with physical exertion.
- When there is a lot of heat, the body may not get rid of excessive fluids in different body tissues. This means that fluid can easily accumulate in the ankles causing edema
- Burns cause edema because localized swelling occurs when skin reacts to a burn
- Edema is also common during pregnancy. A woman’s body releases different hormones during pregnancy. These hormones often encourage the body to retain different fluids. As a result, the body will also retain more sodium causing edema. A pregnant woman with edema will have swelling in the eyes, hands, lower feet and limbs. Additionally, during pregnancy, chances of developing edema are very high. This is because an enlarged uterus tends to compress the inferior side of the vena cava. When this occurs, femoral veins will be obstructed causing edema. Edema is also common during pregnancy. This is because blood to clot more easily during this period. It therefore raises the risk of venous thrombosis causing edema. High blood pressure during pregnancy can also cause edema.
- Pre menstruation and menstruation cause hormonal changes in the body. Before menstruation, progesterone levels reduce causing fluid retention and edema.
- The use of contraceptives raises risks of edema. Pills that contain estrogen encourage fluid retention and edema.
- Medication including vasodilators, chemotherapy drugs, diabetes drugs and estrogens encourage fluid retention and edema.
- Excessive salt intake and malnutrition cause edema. Low levels of vitamin B1, B5 and B6 in your diet can easily contribute to fluid retention. Low albumin levels also encourage fluid retention thus, causing edema.
- Kidney disease exerts pressure on blood vessels and fluid leakage causing edema
- Heart failure also causes edema because the heart will not pump blood efficiently to all parts of the body
- Chronic lung disease, liver disease, diabetes, allergies, arthritis, head injury and brain tumor can cause fluid accumulation and leakage. This leads to edema.
- Leg edema is caused by varicose veins, inflammation of lymph nodes, cyst, tumor or growth, lypmhedema and blood clot.
There is no doubt that there are many causes of edema. Symptoms may vary a great deal depending on the cause and severity of the condition. They may also vary from one patient to the other and they include
Symptoms of Edema
- Swelling of the skin
- Puffiness in face, eyes and ankles
- Stiff and painful joints
- Aching body parts
- Stretched and shiny skin
- A dimple appears on the skin when you press it for about ten seconds
- Raised pulse rate
- Weight loss or weight gain. This can occur suddenly or after a specific period of time
- Fuller neck and hand veins
- Increased abdominal size
When you suspect these symptoms, it is imperative to seek medical help for proper diagnosis. A medic will carry out tests on current state of health, how long the symptoms have have existed, check for impermanent and permanent signs and symptoms, medical history and to determine whether you have suffered edema in the past. Tests can be done through blood test, liver function tests, heart function tests, chest X-ray and blood tests.
Edema Home Remedies
Edema is a preventable and treatable disease. Today, there are many home remedies that a medic can recommend especially if the condition is not severe Remember, you should always consult with your physician in order to get a proper diagnosis and before trying to incorporate these home remedies and herbal remedies yourself! Here are some of the home remedies and herbal remedies that you can try.
- Apple Cider Vinegar– Apple cider vinegar is one of the effective remedies for edema. You need to apply apple cider vinegar on the swollen parts and reduce the swelling and also get relieved from the persistent itching.
- Mustard Tree– Mustard tree also provides mustard oil that you can warm a little bit and apply it on the swelling and massage it carefully.
- Melilot– You also need to get the Common Melilot herb that is used in form of an herbal pillow on the affected part of the body.
- Jupiter Berries– The Jupiter plant berries are also essential for curing and preventing edema. You need to take about five dried berries of the plant and chew them carefully and increase depending on the severity of the condition.
- Horsetail, Yarrow and Watercress– The other common herbs that you can go for if you want to promote the rate of urination and increase water removal are the diuretic herbs like horsetail, yarrow and watercress among others. You can also make them into a tea by adding a few teaspoons of the herbs.
- Flax Seed– Ground flax seeds can also be effective cure for edema. You just need to sprinkle them over the food and eat it. There is also oil that is produced from the seeds and you can also apply it on the affected area.
- Bilberry- Bilberry is also a great herb used for treating edema. It comes in different forms, but it is mainly a berry and a fruit that grows naturally. It’s imperative for treating mild inflammation and also protects the blood vessels.
- Dandelion Root– Lastly, you can also make use of the dandelion root as it is an effective herb that will regulate you blood sugar level and treat liver and gall bladder problems. In essence, it is as effective as a laxative.
- Try This– Cut down on salt consumption to prevent fluid retention
- Exercise– Exercise regularly
- Lose Weight– If you are overweight, it is imperative to lose weight
- Try This– In case of swelling in the feet and lower ankles, it is imperative to wear supporting stockings
- Try This– Avoid sitting down or standing for long hours
- Raise Your Legs– Raise your legs to enhance proper blood circulation
- Avoid Extreme Temperature– Try to avoid extreme temperatures in showers, saunas and hot baths. Instead, dress warmly during cold weather as opposed to taking a shower in extreme temperatures
- Massage– It is important to massage an affected area by stroking gently and firmly. Stroke the affected area gently and massage in the direction of the heart because it helps to enhance blood circulation to prevent fluid retention. More importantly, ensure that hand movements do not cause any pain. Therefore, seek help from a physical therapist or a qualified and reputed masseuse.
Diet for Edema
Edema is a highly preventable disease. You can always prevent edema by sticking to a healthy lifestyle. This means that you need to live and eat healthy. A healthy diet plays a crucial role in enhancing liver and kidney functions, thus preventing fluid retention in the body.
It is important to add more fresh fruits, vegetables and fresh food to your diet. Avoid processed and caffeinated drinks and junk food. Fresh fruits, juices and plenty of water are free of salt and prevent water retention in the body. In severe cases of edema, juice fast is great for about 7 to 14 days. It helps to provide great results and treat edema.
It is imperative to lower sodium intake. High intake of salt means more water retention in the body and worsens edema. Drink plenty of water to flush out fluid retention. Ten glasses of water a day is advisable. Banana is great for your diet. This is because it is rich in potassium and helps to regulate the amount of fluid in different parts of the body including muscles and joints. It also helps to prevent injuries, swelling and cramps.
Additionally, avoid a diet that contains a lot of carbohydrates. It is known to cause fluid retention and it can cause and worsen edema.
Consider foods that are high in magnesium, vitamins B1, B2, B6 and vitamin C. They are sodium free and help to prevent fluid retention. Therefore, ensure to eat a lot of green leafy vegetables, oatmeal, asparagus and lima beans. Green leafy vegetables are great sources of magnesium and enhance your health. Eat a lot of soybeans and sprouts including Brussels sprouts. Milk is also great because it is rich in calcium and promotes excretion of excessive fluids in the body.
Prevention of Edema
Edema is highly preventable. You only need to lead a healthy lifestyle. Engage in a wide range of exercises including walking, running, jogging, yoga and other exercises. They help to prevent weight gain and enhance proper blood circulation to prevent swelling in ankles, feet and hands among other parts of the body. Exercises promote excretion of excessive fluids thus preventing edema. Avoid standing and sitting down for long hours.
A healthy diet is very important. Eat a well balanced meal and minimize on the amount of salt in your diet. Sodium encourages fluid retention and by avoiding it, you are preventing edema. Drink plenty of water to flush out toxins that encourage fluid retention.
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