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Edema is the medical term for swelling caused by fluid trapped in the body’s tissue. This swelling is often a symptom, not a condition, caused by diverse medical problems.
- Sitting or standing too long
- Venous insufficiency (weakness or damage to the veins in the leg)
- Congestive heart failure
- Kidney disease & damage
- Thyroid diseases
- Liver damage (cirrhosis)
- Medication such as blood pressure medication, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs), steroids, diabetes medication
- Allergic reactions
- High salt diet
Edema frequently affects the hands, arms, legs, feet, and ankles.
- Swelling in the affected area
- The skin over the affected area looks stretched out or shiny
- The skin holds a dimple after pressure is applied to it for several seconds
- Difficulty breathing (if the edema is in lung tissue)
- Difficulty with movement
- Swelling in the abdomen
While symptoms associated with edema can be fairly mild, the swelling itself is usually a symptom of a more serious underlying health condition. If you are experiencing unexplainable swelling, or skin that looks stretched out and dimples after contact, talk to your doctor promptly. If left untreated, the underlying cause of edema can significantly damage your health, while also leading to more swelling and mobility loss.
Treatment for edema depends on the underlying cause of the symptom. During your appointment, talk to your health care provider about your medical history, any conditions you are dealing with, and the best treatment plan for you.