If you’ve ever awakened in the morning with your ring feeling tighter on your finger or have been surprised at the sight of puffy eyes looking back at you in the mirror, you know how uncomfortable – and sometimes embarrassing – edema can be. Edema – swelling caused by excess fluid in the tissues – is most often experienced in the hands, arms, legs, ankles, and feet, although other parts of the body, such as the face, may also be affected.
In most cases edema is not a sign of a serious medical condition. In fact, a few lifestyle changes may be all you need to eliminate the excess fluid that causes your body to swell. With a few modifications, you should see a reduction in symptoms within a few days.
Here are seven causes of edema and steps you can take to naturally rid your body of it.
Inactivity – Inactivity can cause an increase in fluid retention. That’s why it’s a good idea to get moving when edema becomes an issue. Take a brisk walk to get the blood flowing or head to the gym for a heart-pumping workout.
Elevated or Reduced Sodium Levels – When you have a sodium imbalance, low or high, your body responds by retaining fluid. Furthermore, potassium levels must also be in balance because it works with sodium to regulate the transport of nutrients and to regulate waste within the body. By drinking plenty of water and regulating sodium intake, you’re likely to notice a reduction in swelling. Before self-regulating sodium, however, it may be worth your while to visit your doctor to determine if excessive – or not enough – sodium is the cause of your edema.
Heat and Humidity – Many individuals notice that heat and humidity lead to excessive swelling, particularly during summer months. Drink more water, reduce sodium intake, and get moving to reduce swelling in the tissues.
Dehydration – When we do not get enough fluid intake, the body will naturally hold onto fluid because metabolic processes require the presence of water in our bodies. To curb edema caused by dehydration, the best course of action is to drink more water.
Menopause – Menopause brings an array of bodily changes, and water retention is one of them. To reduce swelling, increase your fluid intake and elevate your feet at night so that they are above your heart. Adding vitamin B supplements can also go a long way toward reducing swollen ankles since vitamin B deficiency can also lead to water retention.
Chronic Medical Conditions – Although in most cases a simple case of edema can be eliminated by avoiding salty foods, drinking more water, and engaging in an exercise routine, there are times when fluid retention may be a sign of a chronic medical condition. If you have prolonged edema, it could be a red flag that warrants attention. Here are just a few diseases that cause bodily swelling:
• Damaged or weakened veins in the legs
• Congestive heart failure
• Kidney damage or disease
• Insufficient lymphatic system
If you suspect your fluid retention may be symptomatic of an underlying medical condition, schedule an appointment with your physician as soon as possible.
Reaction to prescription medication – There are a variety of medications that may cause edema. Here are just a few.
• Birth control pills
• Menopausal hormone therapy
• Blood pressure medication
• Endocrine agents
The list goes on.