What is edema?

Oedema or swelling is an abnormal accumulation of fluid in certain body tissues.

Fluid can collect under the skin – usually in the extremities, most commonly in the legs (peripheral edema or ankle edema) or it can accumulate in the lungs (pulmonary edema). >

The location of the swelling makes it easier for your doctor to determine the specific cause of the swelling.

What are the symptoms of edema?

Symptoms depend on the cause of the edema.

Peripheral edema:

Symptoms of peripheral edema are swelling of the affected areas, which causes a feeling of tightness around the affected area.

Swelling as a result of peripheral edema is dependent on gravity. It will increase or decrease with changes in body position.

The skin over the swollen area becomes tight and shiny, and often when you press it with your finger, an indentation appears. This is called sinking oedema.

With pulmonary edema, you often have no visible signs of fluid retention or limb swelling. This is because fluid builds up in the lungs. Signs and symptoms are usually:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing while lying down
  • Waking due to lack of air and you need lots of pillows to keep your head up and sleep comfortably.

Causes of Edema

One of the main causes of edema is increased capillary pressure.

Capillaries are the smallest blood vessels in the body and act as filters, passing fluids and nutrients into the surrounding tissues.

When this pressure increases, more fluid is released into the surrounding tissues than can be carried back into the circulatory system.

This causes swelling and tissue invasion, which appears as edema.

Pregnancy is one of the factors that can lead to edema in women.

During this period of a woman’s life, the volume of circulating blood and the pressure in the circulatory system increase.

This can cause fluid retention in the tissues, especially in the feet and ankles.

Although in most cases this is a normal phenomenon during pregnancy, it should be monitored by doctors so that it does not become a more serious problem.< /p>

Diseases of the kidneys and liver (part of the hepatic-biliary system) can also cause edema.

Kidneys play a key role in maintaining the body’s fluid balance by filtering waste and excess fluid, which is then excreted through urine.

In renal failure or other kidney diseases, the filtration process can be impaired, leading to fluid retention and edema.

Some medications may also be associated with edema.

For example, some anti-inflammatory drugs, calcium channel blockers, steroids, and antidepressants can cause fluid retention in the body.

This is due to their influence on the circulatory system or hormonal balance.

Treatment of edema

Compression stockings can be helpful in improving capillary resistance and preventing fluid from leaking into surrounding tissues.

These can be purchased from many retail outlets and are best suited for peripheral edema.

Adequate body posture can alleviate the condition in both types of edema – peripheral and pulmonary.

For example, placing the head on several pillows or multiple pillows can be used for pulmonary edema. While raising the legs above the chest is appropriate for peripheral edema.

Treatment of edema aims to:

  • Strengthen the walls of the capillaries so that fluid stays in them.
  • Remove the cause that causes the capillaries to leak fluid into the surrounding tissues.< /strong>

The ultimate goal of edema treatment is to get rid of excess fluid that has already accumulated in the body. The most commonly used remedy is a diuretic.

It helps the kidneys to remove excess fluid from the body more quickly, which reduces the total amount of fluid in the body.

Diuretics should be used with caution, as dehydration may occur.

How to protect ourselves from edema?

To protect our body from edema, we must pay attention to several important aspects of our lifestyle and nutrition.

  1. Healthy nutrition: To avoid edema, preference should be given to healthy foods and avoiding potential allergens. Allergic reactions can contribute to the appearance of edema, so it is important to eliminate or limit foods to which we have an intolerance or allergy.
  2. Limit salt: Consuming too much salt can cause fluid retention in the body, which can lead to edema.
  3. Avoid caffeine and alcohol: Caffeine and alcohol can contribute to dehydration, which in turn can promote fluid retention.
  4. Avoid saturated fat: Eating too much saturated fat, fried foods and chocolate can stress the liver, kidneys and pancreas and make it difficult for them to be efficient.
  5. Physical activity: Regular exercise is a natural diuretic as it improves blood circulation and oxygen in the body.

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