What is Edema?

Edema is a medical condition in which fluid accumulates in the body tissues, causing swelling. It's most commonly seen in the feet, ankles, and legs, and can be caused by several factors, including a malfunctioning heart, liver, or kidneys; standing or sitting for too long; pregnancy; and injury. Other parts of the body may also be affected, such as the face, hands, and abdomen.

Symptoms of Edema

Common symptoms of edema include:

  • Swelling in affected areas
  • Tightness of the skin
  • Stiffness
  • Pain
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Decreased urine output

Causes of Edema

In most cases, edema is caused by a problem with the way your body regulates fluids. This can include any of the following factors:

  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Certain medications, such as steroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Heart, lung, or kidney disease
  • Varicose veins
  • Pregnancy
  • Injury or trauma

Treatment of Edema

Treatment for edema will depend on what is causing it. In mild cases, elevating the affected area and wearing support hose may be enough. Your doctor may also prescribe diuretics, which help remove excess fluid from your body. Other treatments may include various lifestyle changes, such as exercise and diet modifications. Severe cases may require surgery or other medical interventions.