Edema in Legs: Water retention in legs?

When excess fluids accumulate in the body it leads to condition known as edema. There are various types and causes of edema, including hypersensitive edema, cyclic edema, idiopathic edema etc. Idiopathic or cyclic edema is a type of edema that happens to young menstruating women. In this type a large amount of swelling occurs in the legs and abdomen. This is caused when the person stands for a long time. Also, if a person lies for a long time the edema occurs in the eyelids. This happens on account of blood capillaries leaking blood into skin and fat tissue. Swelling and an accumulation of fluids occur in the feet and ankles due to standing or sitting for prolonged periods of time in hot weather.

Another type is venous edema. This occurs when the veins carrying impure blood don't perform as effectively as they are supposed to due to weakened valves. This often leads to a condition commonly known as varicose veins. Decreased strength of the heart muscles leads to a condition referred to as congestive heart failure. This causes a buildup of fluids in the lungs and other parts of the body. In this condition the most visible build up occurs in the ankles and feet.

Interestingly, even low protein levels in blood can cause an accumulation of fluids in the body. Proteins in the blood help keep water and salt locked in blood vessels. This prevents fluids from leaking out of tissue. Of these, albumin is the most common protein and when this gets too low, edema is seen in the body, especially in the feet and ankles. Edema can be treated by a reduced intake of salt and intake of fluids. One can also get relief by elevating the legs above the level of the heart while sitting. During pregnancy this method is most useful.

In the case of varicose veins, stockings that stimulate a better flow of blood are to be worn by patients. This works in most cases, however, in some cases it is necessary to perform surgery to improve the flow of blood in the legs. Regular exercise is also seen as a very effective way to prevent edema. Not sitting at one's desk for prolonged periods of time, taking regular breaks and standing up if you've been sitting for too long etc can also reduce the effects of edema.

On the other hand, repeated and excessive intake of laxatives, diuretics or vomiting will cause your body to adapt to being constantly dehydrated. Your body will fight back by learning to retain more fluid than usual. When one stops excessive intake and follows a normal diet, your body will unlearn this and will slowly start to just retain the required amount of fluids. People who over use laxatives or vomit regularly are at a high risk for shifting between dehydration and edema.

answered by G R

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