Edema

Earlier,  Edema or Oedema was known as Dropsy. Basically, the medical term for swelling is Edema. This problem generally occurs due to excessive accumulation of fluid in the tissues. The small blood vessels leak fluid into nearby tissue which causes Edema. After that, the extra fluid builds up because of which the tissues swell. Edema can be caused due to many problems including medications, infection, pregnancy and others. It can happen on a part of the body or on the entire body. Though generally, it happens on the legs, feet and/or hands. But it can happen anywhere on your body.

Types of Edema:

There are various types of Edema, which are listed below:

-  Lymphedema: In this, swelling occurs in the arms and legs. Lymphedema is caused due to the damage to the lymph nodes and tissues which help in the filtration of waste and germs in the body. Cancer and its treatment can cause the damage to the lymph nodes.

-  Peripheral Edema: Legs, feet and ankles are generally affected in Peripheral Edema. Though, arms can also get affected. It can happen because of the problem with your kidneys, circulatory system or lymph nodes.

-  Macular edema: In Macular Edema, the fluid builds up in the centre of the retina i.e. macula. Because of the macula, you are not able to see the objects clearly that are in front of you. This problem causes the macula to swell due to which there is distortion in the vision.

-  Pedal Edema: This problem generally occurs to the pregnant ladies or those people who are older. Pedal Edema occurs due to the accumulation of fluid in the feet and lower legs. Because of this problem, it becomes hard to move around due to no sensation in the feet.

-  Cerebral Edema: In Cerebral Edema, fluid builds up in the brain. This problem can happen if a person has a tumour or allergic reaction, a blood vessel bursts or blocked or hit the head badly. It is one of the very serious problems.

Symptoms

- The symptoms of Edema depend on which part of your body has the swelling and also on the amount of the swelling.

- Edema can even happen due to a small infection or a large infection. The small infection can happen due to the bite of the mosquito, while the large reaction can happen due to the sting of the bee. There can be no signs of symptoms when Edema is in a small area.  On the other hand, when Edema is in a large area it can create pain or limit the movement of the infected part of the body.

- Tongue or Throat Edema may happen due to food intolerances and allergic reactions to medicines. It can create a serious threat to your life if it interferes with your breathing.

- Legs become heavy when you suffer from Leg Edema. It creates a problem in walking.

- When a pressure is applied to the swollen area by the finger and then the finger is released, a pit is formed. This is known as Pitting Edema. Doctors generally use this practice in order to diagnose the Edema.

- Shortness of breath and low oxygen levels in the blood are the symptoms of Pulmonary Edema. Because of Pulmonary Edema, people may have a cough problem.

Causes

-  Poor diet: A poor diet can be a cause of Edema. Too much intake of salt in your diet can lead to the mild Edema. Sometimes Edema can get worse when combined with other conditions.

-  Sitting and standing for a long period of time: Prolonged sitting and standing can lead to Edema especially in the hot weather conditions. So, you should avoid standing and sitting for a prolonged period.

-  Head injury and trauma: A brain injury can lead to Edema. If a person hits the head hardly then there are the chances of developing Cerebral Edema. In cerebral edema, the fluid builds up in the brain. Head trauma, high altitude brain tumours, headaches, confusion, hyponatremia, hydrocephalus, unconsciousness and coma can lead to the Cerebral Edema.

-  Pregnancy: Pregnancy can cause the Edema of legs, face, ankles, hands and feet. Mild swelling is common in pregnancy. Preeclampsia is a complication of the pregnancy due to which there can be sudden swelling in the hands or face.

-  Critical illness: Due to critical illnesses, the Edema can occur in your whole body. The infections threatening your life, burns or other critical illnesses can cause a reaction because of which fluid can leak into tissues almost everywhere.

-  Congestive heart failure: Due to congestive heart failure, Leg Edema can occur. Not only this, edema in the abdomen can also develop if the heart failure is on the right-hand side of your heart.

-  Low albumin: It is also known as hypoalbuminemia. Usually, it is not the only cause that leads to Edema but it can have a contribution to Edema.

-  Liver disease: Cirrhosis is a severe liver disease which can cause Edema in the abdomen and leg. Cirrhosis also leads to the low albumin which also contributes to the Edema.

-  Kidney disease: Due to the Nephrotic syndrome which is a sign of kidneys not working properly, Edema in the leg and whole body can occur.

-  Medications: Edema can also happen due to the intake of some medicines including NSAIDs, Calcium channel blockers, Pioglitazone, Rosiglitazone, Corticosteroids and Pramipexole.

How is it diagnosed?

If you find swelling in any part of the body or the entire body then you should immediately reach out to the concerned doctor according to the area of the body that has got the swelling. For the primary check-up, you can reach out to the physician. Though, experts can tell you better about your problem. Swollen area skin may get stretched and shiny. In order to examine, doctors push gently the swollen area for around 15 seconds which will leave a pit. The doctor might ask you to get some test done to know the cause of your Edema. After the examination, the doctor will tell you whether you have the Edema or not. The type of the doctor depends that you choose for the treatment depends on the area and cause of Edema.

Prevention

- In order to prevent the Edema from happening, you should always keep yourself active as much as possible.

- Doing daily exercises keeps you active so you should bring this into your daily routine to prevent the Edema.

- You should reduce the amount of salt that you are taking. As the excess amount of salt intake can cause the Edema. So, it is important that you avoid the excess amount of salt in your diet.

- You must follow the advice of your doctor in order to prevent the Edema.

Treatment

- In order to get the treatment for Edema, it is important that the causes of the Edema should be treated first. Let's say you have got the swelling due to allergies. Thus, it will be important that you get treatment in order to cure the allergies.

- Diuretic is a water pill that can be used to treat the Edema in your leg occurred due to the congestive heart failure or liver disease. These medicines are effective because they reduce the extra amount of water and salt from your body through the pee.

- If the Edema has happened due to the intake of some medicines then nothing would work until you stop the medicines that you are having.

- Avoid the food which has a high amount of salt. You must have healthy food in order to treat the Edema. You should avoid the tobacco and alcohol.

- Grape seed extract is also helpful in treating the Edema related to varicose veins and poor vein function.

- Acupuncture or massage can also help in treating the Edema.

Complications

-  Life-threatening: Cerebral Edema and Pulmonary Edema can cause a threat to your life. Throat or Tounge edema can also cause a serious threat to your life if it interferes with your life.

-  Difficulty in walking: When there is Edema in the legs then it becomes harder for the people to walk. Pedal Edema which is generally found in the pregnant and older people can cause the problem in feet and lower legs. Due to the Pedal Edema, people could not have the feeling in their feet which make it harder for them to move around.

-  Swelling: Swelling is the symptom of Edema. Swelling in any part of the body can cause the acute pain. Swelling in any part of the body can create a problem as it can stop the movement of that particular part of the body. The swelling can also lead to an increase in the weight of your body.

-  Stretching: Due to the Edema, the skin of your body stretches which also helps the doctors in recognising that you are suffering from the Edema. Due to the stretching, there can be itching in the affected area. Cosmetic changes can also be there such as striae, stretch marks. Stretching can make you feel uncomfortable.

-  Difficulty in breathing: If a person gets Edema in the lungs then there are the chances of facing the difficulty in breathing. Difficulty in breathing can cause a threat to the life of the person. Trouble in breathing could be a symptom of Pulmonary Edema. If you face any difficulty in breathing then you should immediately ask for the assistance.

-  Infection in tissues: Edema that has been attacking the body for a long time can increase the risk of an infection in the tissues.

-  Complications during pregnancy: Preeclampsia is a complication of the pregnancy due to which you will find sudden swelling in the hands or face. Edema can also be developed during the period of pregnancy. In this case, you should call your doctor immediately as it can create the complications later on.

Conclusion:

Edema happens due to the excessive accumulation of fluid in the tissues which create swelling. There are various types of Edema including Pedal Edema, Macular Edema, Peripheral Edema, Lymphedema, Cerebral Edema and more. Sometimes a serious Edema can lead to the life-threatening problem. People face many problems due to the Edema including difficulty in walking, swelling, stretching, difficulty in breathing and more. As soon as, you come across the symptoms of Edema, you should reach out to the doctors so that your Edema can be cured before it is too late. In order to get the treatment for Edema, it is important that a person first know the causes of the Edema. The person gets the treatment for the causes of the edema in order to treat the Edema. The type of the doctor that you should refer to in order to get the treatment depends on the area and cause of Edema. A prolonged Edema can create a serious problem like an infection in the tissues so it is important that you get the treatment as early as possible.

Medications can also sometimes lead to the development of Edema in the body. If Edema has occurred due to the intake of some medicines then you should stop taking those medicines in order to get the cure. In order to get the prevention from Edema, you should always be active.

For this, you should exercise daily. You should reduce the intake of salt in your diet as the excess amount of salt can lead to Edema. You should give preference to the healthy food. Acupuncture or massage can be helpful in treating the Edema. Diuretic (water pill) helps in reducing the extra amount of water and salt from your body through the pee.

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Last updated on : 14-09-2018

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