Edema

What Is Edema?

When the body or some parts of the body become swollen or puffy, the condition is known as edema. The swelling occurs when the capillaries (tiny blood vessels) in the body leak fluid, which is trapped in tissues of the body, especially the skin, causing swelling. A small part of the body or the entire body can be affected.

Although edema is quite a common condition, sometimes an edema can be a sign of some serious problem. Most often, edema affects the skin and parts of the body such as arms, hands, legs, feet and ankles. It can affect the bowels, lungs muscles, brain and eyes too.

There are many types of edema such as:

  • Peripheral edema:The edema affects the legs, feet, ankles, arms and hands.
  • Pulmonary edema:This occurs when fluid collects in the lungs and makes it difficult to breathe. This can be caused due to acute lung injury or congestive heart failure.
  • Macular edema:The swelling occurs in the macula of the eye and is a complication caused due to diabetic retinopathy.
  • Cerebral edema:When there is swelling in the brain. 

What Is Edema?

When the body or some parts of the body become swollen or puffy, the condition is known as edema. The swelling occurs when the capillaries (tiny blood vessels) in the body leak fluid, which is trapped in tissues of the body, especially the skin, causing swelling. A small part of the body or the entire body can be affected.

Although edema is quite a common condition, sometimes an edema can be a sign of some serious problem. Most often, edema affects the skin and parts of the body such as arms, hands, legs, feet and ankles. It can affect the bowels, lungs muscles, brain and eyes too.

There are many types of edema such as:

  • Peripheral edema:The edema affects the legs, feet, ankles, arms and hands.
  • Pulmonary edema:This occurs when fluid collects in the lungs and makes it difficult to breathe. This can be caused due to acute lung injury or congestive heart failure.
  • Macular edema:The swelling occurs in the macula of the eye and is a complication caused due to diabetic retinopathy.
  • Cerebral edema:When there is swelling in the brain. 

What Are The Symptoms Of Edema?

The symptoms and signs of edema are:

  • Swelling, pain and tightness
  • Stretched, shiny and swollen skin
  • When pressed, the skin forms a dimple
  • Puffiness of face, ankles or eyes
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Stiff joints and aching body
  • High blood pressure and pulse rate
  • Headache
  • Changes in bowel habits, nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lethargy and confusion, disturbances in vision

What Are The Causes Of Edema?

Some causes of edema are:

  • Staying or sitting in a particular position for a prolonged period.
  • High altitude, sunburn or burns.
  • Use of contraceptives, thyroid disease
  • Menopause.
  • Eating too much of salt or salty foods.
  • Premenstrual symptoms, pregnancy.
  • Medications (high blood pressure medicines, steroid drugs, NSAIDs, estrogens, thiazolidinediones (diabetes medication), vasodilators, etc.).

Sometimes, edema may be caused due to a more serious health condition like:

  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Weakness or damage to the veins in the legs
  • Kidney disease, kidney damage
  • Long-term severe protein deficiency
  • Damaged lymphatic system
  • Problems with circulation, infection, death of tissues
  • Electrolyte problems, overload of fluid in the body
  • Diabetes, edema in the brain due to head injury, brain tumour, stroke
  • Allergies, blood clot in vein
  • Varicose veins, tumour, cyst or growth
  • Lymphedema due to infection, surgery or infection

What Are The Things One Should Do To Manage Edema?

If you are suffering from edema:

  • Cut down consumption of salt.
  • Lose weight in case you are overweight.
  • Raising your legs helps to improve circulation. Walking, cycling, running and aerobics can help to prevent edema.
  • Regular exercise can help to prevent occurrence of edema.
  • When you are travelling, get up and walk around regularly.
  • In the cold temperature, dress warmly.
  • When sitting at your desk at work, if you have swelling in your ankles, then lift your legs parallel to the floor periodically.
  • Keep up your feet propped up on a pillow when watching TV, resting or reading. The gravity can help to drain the fluid away from the swollen feet and ankles.
  • Applying ice to the affected parts can help to reduce the swelling. However, avoid this if you suffer from poor circulation or diabetes. 

What Are The Things One Should Avoid To Manage Edema?

  • Avoid standing or sitting for long periods of time.
  • Avoid extreme temperatures and very hot showers, baths and sauna therapy.
  • Avoid crossing your legs, as the blood flow through the veins gets limited and makes the swelling worse.
  • Avoid wearing tight clothing, as it stops the fluids from being removed from the lower legs. 

What Are The Best Foods For Edema?

  • Eating foods rich in potassium such as bananas, broccoli, apricots, sweet potatoes, oranges, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, etc. helps the kidneys to remove the excess sodium and fluid from the body and prevents edema.
  • Vitamin B6 contains pyridoxine and this has diuretic properties which help to flush out the excess fluid in the body. Foods like red meat and brown rice are good sources of vitamin B6. 
  • Eating foods like cereals, fish, yeast, nuts and chicken can help to prevent edema.
  • Foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish oils and oily fish can help to reduce inflammation in the body. Eating salmon helps to prevent edema and swelling.
  • Nuts like almonds and walnuts are excellent sources of omega-3 fats and help to prevent swelling and edema.
  • Oils such as olive oil and coconut oil can help to prevent inflammation, swelling and prevents edema.

What Are The Worst Foods For Edema?

  • Sodium is very bad for edema. So, avoid consumption of salt and salty foods such as French fries, chips, soy sauce, salted nuts, pretzels, bacon, ham, canned tuna, processed meats, hot dogs, sausages, takeaway food, cheese, canned foods, etc. as they are high in salt.
  • Avoid foods that are high in saturated and trans fats as they stimulate inflammation and worsen the condition of edema.
  • Avoid or limit consumption of alcohol and caffeinated beverages, as they cause fluid retention and aggravate the edema.
  • Avoid carbonated beverages such as fizzy drinks, soda, beer, etc. as they contain loads of sugar and sodium and they also cause bloating and gas apart from making the edema worse.
  • Avoid processed grains and products such as oat cereals, ready-to-eat bran, popcorn, pancakes, waffles, crackers, etc. as these contain a lot of sodium, which worsens edema.
  • Avoid tomato juice and vegetable juice as they have high levels of sodium which worsens the edema.
  • Avoid convenience foods such as soups, rice, pasta mixes, frozen meals, etc. as they are high in sodium and cause the edema and swelling to worsen. 

What Are The Medicines For Edema?

What Are The Tips To Manage Edema?

  • You can use massage therapy to remove the accumulated fluid by massaging in the direction of the heart. Massaging helps to activate the lymphatic system, helping to drain the fluid naturally. You can use warm olive, coconut or mustard oil and massage the inflamed area many times a day for relief.
  • Keeping the swollen portion above heart level many times in a day, especially while sleeping can help to reduce edema.
  • Using compression sleeves, stockings or gloves put pressure on the limbs and stops the fluid from collecting in the tissue and helps to reduce the swelling.
  • Calcium, magnesium, vitamin D and B5 help to improve the kidney function and remove the water from the body, thereby preventing edema.

Some natural remedies for edema are:

  • Dandelion has natural diuretic properties and contains potassium that helps to reduce the level of sodium and also aids in eliminating the fluids and reducing the swelling. You can mix a teaspoon of dandelion leaves, dried or fresh in 1 glass of hot water and let it steep for around 5-7 minutes. Strain and drink the tea 2-3 times in a day for relief from edema. However, you should avoid using dandelion if you have gallbladder problems.
  • Apple cider vinegar and helps to reduce fluid retention and also pain and swelling caused due to edema as it has a high potassium content. Adding 1-2 teaspoonful of apple cider vinegar to a cup of water and drinking it 2 times a day provides relief. Or, soaking a towel in a solution of water and apple cider vinegar and wrapping the towel over the affected parts of the body 2-3 times in a day can provide relief from swelling.
  • Mix 1 cup of Epsom salt in a tub of warm water and soak in it for 10-15 minutes around thrice a week. This can help to flush out the excess water and toxins from the body and reduce edema.
  • Tea tree oil has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Add it to some oil such as coconut or jojoba oil and massage it to the affected parts twice a day for relief from inflammation and pain.
  • Parsley has diuretic properties and can help to reduce painful swelling caused by edema. To 2 cups of water add a spoonful of parsley and let it boil for around 10 minutes and strain and drink the liquid in the morning on an empty stomach or grind the parsley leaves into a paste and apply the paste to the inflamed areas for around 30 minutes and rinse with warm water for relief. 

What Are The Symptoms Of Edema?

The symptoms and signs of edema are:

  • Swelling, pain and tightness
  • Stretched, shiny and swollen skin
  • When pressed, the skin forms a dimple
  • Puffiness of face, ankles or eyes
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Stiff joints and aching body
  • High blood pressure and pulse rate
  • Headache
  • Changes in bowel habits, nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lethargy and confusion, disturbances in vision

What Are The Causes Of Edema?

Some causes of edema are:

  • Staying or sitting in a particular position for a prolonged period.
  • High altitude, sunburn or burns.
  • Use of contraceptives, thyroid disease
  • Menopause.
  • Eating too much of salt or salty foods.
  • Premenstrual symptoms, pregnancy.
  • Medications (high blood pressure medicines, steroid drugs, NSAIDs, estrogens, thiazolidinediones (diabetes medication), vasodilators, etc.).

Sometimes, edema may be caused due to a more serious health condition like:

  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Weakness or damage to the veins in the legs
  • Kidney disease, kidney damage
  • Long-term severe protein deficiency
  • Damaged lymphatic system
  • Problems with circulation, infection, death of tissues
  • Electrolyte problems, overload of fluid in the body
  • Diabetes, edema in the brain due to head injury, brain tumour, stroke
  • Allergies, blood clot in vein
  • Varicose veins, tumour, cyst or growth
  • Lymphedema due to infection, surgery or infection

What Are The Things One Should Do To Manage Edema?

If you are suffering from edema:

  • Cut down consumption of salt.
  • Lose weight in case you are overweight.
  • Raising your legs helps to improve circulation. Walking, cycling, running and aerobics can help to prevent edema.
  • Regular exercise can help to prevent occurrence of edema.
  • When you are travelling, get up and walk around regularly.
  • In the cold temperature, dress warmly.
  • When sitting at your desk at work, if you have swelling in your ankles, then lift your legs parallel to the floor periodically.
  • Keep up your feet propped up on a pillow when watching TV, resting or reading. The gravity can help to drain the fluid away from the swollen feet and ankles.
  • Applying ice to the affected parts can help to reduce the swelling. However, avoid this if you suffer from poor circulation or diabetes. 

What Are The Things One Should Avoid To Manage Edema?

  • Avoid standing or sitting for long periods of time.
  • Avoid extreme temperatures and very hot showers, baths and sauna therapy.
  • Avoid crossing your legs, as the blood flow through the veins gets limited and makes the swelling worse.
  • Avoid wearing tight clothing, as it stops the fluids from being removed from the lower legs. 

What Are The Best Foods For Edema?

  • Eating foods rich in potassium such as bananas, broccoli, apricots, sweet potatoes, oranges, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, etc. helps the kidneys to remove the excess sodium and fluid from the body and prevents edema.
  • Vitamin B6 contains pyridoxine and this has diuretic properties which help to flush out the excess fluid in the body. Foods like red meat and brown rice are good sources of vitamin B6. 
  • Eating foods like cereals, fish, yeast, nuts and chicken can help to prevent edema.
  • Foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish oils and oily fish can help to reduce inflammation in the body. Eating salmon helps to prevent edema and swelling.
  • Nuts like almonds and walnuts are excellent sources of omega-3 fats and help to prevent swelling and edema.
  • Oils such as olive oil and coconut oil can help to prevent inflammation, swelling and prevents edema.

What Are The Worst Foods For Edema?

  • Sodium is very bad for edema. So, avoid consumption of salt and salty foods such as French fries, chips, soy sauce, salted nuts, pretzels, bacon, ham, canned tuna, processed meats, hot dogs, sausages, takeaway food, cheese, canned foods, etc. as they are high in salt.
  • Avoid foods that are high in saturated and trans fats as they stimulate inflammation and worsen the condition of edema.
  • Avoid or limit consumption of alcohol and caffeinated beverages, as they cause fluid retention and aggravate the edema.
  • Avoid carbonated beverages such as fizzy drinks, soda, beer, etc. as they contain loads of sugar and sodium and they also cause bloating and gas apart from making the edema worse.
  • Avoid processed grains and products such as oat cereals, ready-to-eat bran, popcorn, pancakes, waffles, crackers, etc. as these contain a lot of sodium, which worsens edema.
  • Avoid tomato juice and vegetable juice as they have high levels of sodium which worsens the edema.
  • Avoid convenience foods such as soups, rice, pasta mixes, frozen meals, etc. as they are high in sodium and cause the edema and swelling to worsen. 

What Are The Medicines For Edema?

What Are The Tips To Manage Edema?

  • You can use massage therapy to remove the accumulated fluid by massaging in the direction of the heart. Massaging helps to activate the lymphatic system, helping to drain the fluid naturally. You can use warm olive, coconut or mustard oil and massage the inflamed area many times a day for relief.
  • Keeping the swollen portion above heart level many times in a day, especially while sleeping can help to reduce edema.
  • Using compression sleeves, stockings or gloves put pressure on the limbs and stops the fluid from collecting in the tissue and helps to reduce the swelling.
  • Calcium, magnesium, vitamin D and B5 help to improve the kidney function and remove the water from the body, thereby preventing edema.

Some natural remedies for edema are:

  • Dandelion has natural diuretic properties and contains potassium that helps to reduce the level of sodium and also aids in eliminating the fluids and reducing the swelling. You can mix a teaspoon of dandelion leaves, dried or fresh in 1 glass of hot water and let it steep for around 5-7 minutes. Strain and drink the tea 2-3 times in a day for relief from edema. However, you should avoid using dandelion if you have gallbladder problems.
  • Apple cider vinegar and helps to reduce fluid retention and also pain and swelling caused due to edema as it has a high potassium content. Adding 1-2 teaspoonful of apple cider vinegar to a cup of water and drinking it 2 times a day provides relief. Or, soaking a towel in a solution of water and apple cider vinegar and wrapping the towel over the affected parts of the body 2-3 times in a day can provide relief from swelling.
  • Mix 1 cup of Epsom salt in a tub of warm water and soak in it for 10-15 minutes around thrice a week. This can help to flush out the excess water and toxins from the body and reduce edema.
  • Tea tree oil has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Add it to some oil such as coconut or jojoba oil and massage it to the affected parts twice a day for relief from inflammation and pain.
  • Parsley has diuretic properties and can help to reduce painful swelling caused by edema. To 2 cups of water add a spoonful of parsley and let it boil for around 10 minutes and strain and drink the liquid in the morning on an empty stomach or grind the parsley leaves into a paste and apply the paste to the inflamed areas for around 30 minutes and rinse with warm water for relief.