What Are the Basics of Edema?

1 Answer

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What is the definition of edema?

Edema, also spelled oedema, is the medical term for swelling. It means the abnormal accumulation of fluids in the interstitium because of injuries or inflammations. It can not only affect a small area but also the entire body. There are many types of edema, which include peripheral edema, pedal edema, lymphedema, pulmonary edema, cerebral edema, macular edema, etc.

What are the causes of edema?

There are two major causes of edema: the certain diseases and certain drugs. Diseases that may trigger edema are:
  • Congestive heart failure: It often causes leg edema.
  • Kidney disease: A kidney condition called nephrotic syndrome can trigger severe leg edema or whole-body edema.
  • Liver disease: A liver condition called cirrhosis can also cause leg edema.
  • Head trauma: Head traumas like hyponatremia, brain cancer, hydrocephalus can trigger cerebral edema.
  • Critical illness: Life-threatening infections, burns can cause edema all over the body.
  • Inadequate lymphatic system
  • Weakness or damage to veins in your legs: Especially the chronic venous insufficiency.
Drugs that may trigger edema are:
  • Certain diabetes medications called thiazolidinediones
  • Estrogens
  • High blood pressure medications
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Steroid drugs
<!--nextpage--> Other causes:
  • Pregnancy: It can cause mild leg edema.
  • Allergic reactions
  • Low albumin: The appearance of low albumin can be traced back to dietary habits and certain diseases like cancer.
  • Eat too much salty food
  • Stay in one position for a long time

What are the symptoms of edema?

Different types of edema have different signs or symptoms, the common symptoms include:
  • Increases abdominal size.
  • Swelling or puffiness in legs or arms.
  • Swollen tongue or throat because of food allergies.
  • Stretched or shiny skin.
  • Dimple in skin after being pressed for several seconds.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain

How to treat edema?

The treatments for edema vary from type to type, or symptom to symptom. Mild edema usually goes away on its own, the treatments for more severe cases of edema are as follow:
  • For edema caused by food allergies, you should take some allergy medications.
  • For edema caused by block in fluid drainage, like the blood clot in legs, you can not only turn to blood thinners, but also surgeries, chemotherapies, or radiation therapies.
  • For edema associated with congestive heart failure or liver disease, you can turn to diuretics like furosemide (Lasix).
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