Edema

Learn more about the Lymphatic System Disease

What is Edema?

Edema is the medical term for swelling. It is a general response of the body to injury or inflammation. Edema can be isolated to a small area or affect the entire body.

Treatment for Edema

Treatment Plan

Mild edema usually goes away on its own, particularly if you help things along by raising the affected limb higher than your heart.

More severe edema may be treated with drugs that help your body expel excess fluid in the form of urine.

Long-term management typically focuses on treating the underlying cause of the swelling. If edema occurs as a result of medication use, your doctor may adjust your prescription or check for an alternative medication that doesn't cause edema.

Prevention of Edema

  • Limit the amount of salt in your diet.
  • Exercise regularly. Warm up and stretch before exercising.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, and keep your skin cool in hot environments.
  • Avoid repetitive motions, or take frequent breaks often to rest a body area.
  • Take medicines as instructed. If swelling occurs often, discuss with your doctor whether taking your medicine at another time of day would decrease the swelling.
  • Chose to bathe over taking a showeR
  • Wear high heeled shoes less often
  • Move your ankles while at work
  • Watch how much water you drink per day
  • Moderate your daily salt consumption

Living with Edema

The following may help decrease edema and keep it from coming back. Before trying these self-care techniques, talk to your doctor about which ones are right for you.

  • Movement. Moving and using the muscles in the part of your body affected by edema may help pump the excess fluid back to your heart. Ask your doctor about exercises you can do that may reduce swelling.
  • Elevation. Hold the swollen part of your body above the level of your heart several times a day. In some cases, elevating the affected body part while you sleep may be helpful.
  • Massage. Stroking the affected area toward your heart using firm, but not painful, pressure may help move the excess fluid out of that area.
  • Compression. If one of your limbs is affected by edema, your doctor may recommend you wear compression stockings, sleeves or gloves. These garments keep pressure on your limbs to prevent fluid from collecting in the tissue.
  • Protection. Keep the affected area clean, moisturized and free from injury. Dry, cracked skin is more prone to scrapes, cuts and infection. Always wear protection on your feet if that's where the swelling typically occurs.
  • Reduce salt intake. Follow your doctor's suggestions about limiting how much salt you consume. Salt can increase fluid retention and worsen edema.

Resources

"Swelling-Home Treatment." WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.

Medical News Today. MediLexicon International, n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2015.

"Easy Edema Treatment for Water Retention in Swollen Feet." Slism. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2015.

Written by Kati Story