Guide To Water Retention
What Is Fluid Retention?
Water from the blood commonly leaks into body tissues. Usually, this fluid is drained out of the body tissues via the lymphatic system - a network of tubes throughout the body whose function is to remove waste and other extraneous material - and returns to the bloodstream. When fluid is not removed by the lympth system, it is retained in the body tissues where it causes swelling (oedema). Edema formation typically starts when fluid leaks from the body's smallest blood vessels, called capillaries, into the neighboring tissue. Typically, such leakage by itself is insufficient to cause noticeable swelling. But if the brain senses that fluid is being lost, it instructs the kidneys to retainsodium and water, leading to an increase in the volume of fluid in the bloodstream, which, in turn, causes additional leakage of fluid from the capillaries. Edema tends to become noticeable at this point.
Types Of Fluid Retention
There are two main categories of fluid retention: generalised edema (swelling throughout the body) and localised edema (swelling in specific parts of the body). The underlying cause of a patient's edema will frequently dictate the location of the swelling.
The most commonly affected areas for edema are:
- The Lungs (pulmonary edema)
What Are The Symptoms Of Water/Fluid Retention? (Edema/Oedema Symptoms)
The symptoms of fluid retention may include:
- Swelling of the skin, causing it to become
stretched and shiny. This commonly occurs in the lower legs (peripheral
edema) due to gravity after prolonged periods of standing, or lower back
(sacral edema) which is often seen in patients who are bed-ridden. Pressing
on the swollen area for a few seconds leaves a dimple in the skin (pitting
What Are The Causes Of Water/Fluid Retention? (Edema/Oedema Causes)
Water retention and accompanied swelling can be caused by a wide range of factors, including:
- Eating Too Much Salt
Alternatively, fluid retention may be a
symptom of a more serious underlying medical condition. Here are the most
How To Diagnose The Cause Of Water/Fluid Retention? (Edema/Oedema Causes)
Before treating edema, the underlying cause of the oedema must be diagnosed. Common diagnostic tests to determine the most likely cause, may include:
- Questioning of the patient about the
exact symptoms of fluid retention being experienced, including: when it
started, where the swelling occurs in the body, whether it is constant
or intermittent, aggravating factors that worsen the swelling.
How Is Water/Fluid Retention Treated? (Edema/Oedema Treatment)
Treatment options obviously depend on the probable cause of the edema, as well as the severity of symptoms experienced by the patient. Treatments for edema include:
- A low salt diet.
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