Edema is the accumulation of fluid in the tissues of the body which causes swelling of the legs, hands, feet and other parts of the body. Fluid builds up in the tissues when there is leakage from the capillaries caused by injuries, excess pressure or the levels of albumin are reduced. Edema can also happen in pregnant women. Conditions such as cardiovascular disease, liver cirrhosis, kidney disease and swollen lymph nodes can also cause edema. Excessive consumption of salt in the diet can cause edema and sometimes occur in the lungs also known as pulmonary edema.
- There is swelling or puffiness of the tissues under the skin.
- The skin when pressed for several seconds produces a dimple
- A stretched or shiny skin and an increase in abdominal size
Severe symptoms such as shortness of breath, pain in the chest and difficulty in breathing requires medical help immediately.
- Eating excessive amounts of salty foods
- Premenstrual signs and symptoms
- Sitting or staying in one position for long hours
- Side effects of some medications such as those used in controlling high blood pressure, estrogens, steroid medication as well as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and medications for diabetes such as thiazolidinedione.
- Move and use the muscle of the body affected by edema as much as possible in order to help excess fluid flow back to the heart. Perform brisk walking or jogging for at least 30 minutes every day. Perform deep breathing or yoga every day in order to help increase circulation and prevent edema. Swimming several times every week can also help minimize symptoms of edema.
- Elevate the affected area of the body above the level of the heart several times every day for at least 30 minutes 3 times every day in order to help drain excess fluid. The affected part of the body can also be elevated while sleeping.
- Massage the affected area toward the heart using firm pressure but not painful in order to help in removing excess fluid in the area. Warm mustard, coconut or olive oil can be used to massage the affected area several times every day.
- Wear compression stockings, sleeves or gloves in order to maintain pressure on the limbs and prevent buildup of fluid in the tissues.
- Reduce consumption of salty foods such as prepackaged snacks and fast foods. Eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables instead of canned products which contain a large amount of salt. Improve the taste of food using herbs instead of salt.
- Keep the affected area clean, properly moisturized and if possible, avoid any injuries. A dry and cracked skin is more susceptible to cuts, scrapes and infection. Wear protection for the affected area to reduce the risk for infection.
- Take an Epsom salt bath. All you have to do is fill a bath tub with warm water and mix in 2 cups of Epsom salts and then mix them well until the salt is dissolved. Soak the body in the solution for at least 10-15 minutes, at least 3 times every week.