What is Edema?
Edema is the swelling of body because of fluid retention. It is the trapping of excess fluid in tissues. The legs, ankles, and feet are more likely to swell as more weight is on them.
Edema is not always a cause of concern as it may go away with time if it occurs because of temporary cause. However, some causes cannot be ignores and can become serious.
Types of Edema
If an indent appears after pressing a swollen area, it is known as pitting edema. Potting edema may be caused because of a problem with veins, heart, kidneys, or liver.
Non pitting edema occurs when there is no indent left after pressing a swollen part. It js most commonly caused by problems with thyroid or lymphatic system.
What are the Symptoms of Edema?
Swelling can tighten up your skin as the fluid gets trapped in its tissues. Other symptoms of pitting edema can include chest pain, heart murmur, shortness of breath, decreased stamina, and abnormal cough. Symptoms can differ from person to person.
What are the Causes of Edema?
There may be several causes of edema such as low protein levels, lung disease, heart failure, liver disease, kidney disease, obesity, venous insufficiency, pregnancy, medications, administratuon of intravenous fluids, and hot weather.
How Does Edema Affect in Pregnancy?
Edema is a common condition during pregnancy. Pitting edema may not be a cause of concern although you should inform your doctor of any sudden swelling you have anywhere on your body.
Multiple pregnancies can increase the risk of having pitting edema as there is more pressure exerted on the veins by the growing uterus.
A doctor will be able to check if there is something to be concerned about or is it just a symptom. Pre-eclampsia can be serious and has to be checked out.
What are the Risk Factors of Edema?
The risk factors of swelling are mostly because of unhealthy diet and lifestyle. Having a sedentary lifestyle has never been good for health as it further damages your health.
Obesity, heart disease, lung disease, multiple pregnancies, immobility, and lymph node surgery are all risk factors for having swelling. Consumption of too much salt in the diet can also cause fluid retention in the body.
Diagnosis of Edema
Testing is carried out to evaluate the causes of pitting edema. An examination may be carried out to look for signs of watwr retention. A chest X-ray, blood work, and echocardiograms may be prescribed to know the factors causing swelling.
After the testing, the doctor may refer the case to a cardiologist or varicose vein specialist to further evaluate the causes and condition. Edema should not be ignored if it is interrupting your life and daily activities as it may get even more severe with time.
Edema Measurement Scale
Edema can be measured on a scale of 1-4 depending on the indention and time to rebound to original position. A doctor will push the swollen skin and measure the depth of indent made.
- Grade 1 – Barely visible indent is made measuring 2 mm.
- Grade 2 – Slight indent is made of depth 3-4 mm.
- Grade 3 – Visible depression of 5-6 mm is left when pressed.
- Grade 4 – Very deep indent of 8 mm is made when the swollen part is pressed.
Treatment of Edema
Edema is better treated depending on the cause. It is recommended to elevate the swollen limb to regulate blood flow. Pregnant women are often advised to keep their feet elevated and avoid standing for long periods of time. Read for more tips to reduce swelling during pregnancy.
Venous vascular procedures is another treatment available to treat swelling. Compression stockings is recommended by doctors only when the cause of swelling is chronic.
Medicines such as diuretics are prescribed in case the swelling is caused by heart failure, liver disease, or kidney disease.
This means that the organs are not functioning properly to get rid of excess fluid from the body. This may retain salt in the body causing the swelling to become severe.
Are there any Complications with Edema?
The swollen skin may change in apperance over time. Prolonged edema may worsen your symptoms and cause infection of the tissue. Edema caused by varicose veins worsens if it is not treated well.
Does Salt Have an Effect on Edema?
Salt retains water in the body tissues which leads to swelling. The kidneys are responsible for removing excess salt from the body. Hormones and other physical factors decide on how to retain and remove salt through kidneys from the body.
The basic cause of swelling is decreased blood flow to the kidneys. This makes the kidneys retain more fluid to compensate for the decreased blood blow. Salt retains in the body as a result of kidney malfunction.
It is therefore recommended to limit or restrict salt intake when you have swelling or edema. As it is not possible to have strict control on salt intake, diuretics are prescribed in order to excrete excess salt and water from the kidneys.
How to Prevent Edema?
It is possible to take simple steps in order to prevent edema. Avoid sitting for long periods and try to stay active to regulate blood flow. Exercise can help in improving blood circulation.
Therefore, set a regime for your daily physical activity to stay healthy. This will save you from many other problems as well. You may set a reminder at work to get a walk after every hour if you have desk work.
Pitting Edema is a condition that can be treated very well. However, you should not take long to have yourself treated by a doctor. Proper diagnosis and the right treatment can relieve the painful symptoms and resulting health problems.
Also, take care of your diet and control sugar and salt intake. Avoid foods that are known to cause edema. All these steps can speed up recovery and treat edema sooner.