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Edema, called dropsy long ago, is swelling caused by fluid retention. This condition usually occurs in your legs, ankles, or feet. But it can also occur in your hands, face, or any other part of the body. If you have edema, how it’s treated varies depending on what caused it.
There are many different kinds and causes of edema, and it’s often a symptom of another condition.
Serious illnesses that can cause edema include:
Medications can cause edema, such as those prescribed for:
Sometimes, edema is a result of damaged or varicose veins in your legs.
Depending on the location, any surgery that involves removal of lymph nodes can result in edema. This form of edema is known as lymphedema.
A poor diet, especially one containing too much salt, can cause mild edema or worsen it when combined with other conditions. Prolonged sitting and standing can also cause edema, especially in hot weather.
If you suddenly develop edema during pregnancy, call your doctor immediately, as it can be a sign of complications.
Always seek emergency assistance if you have trouble breathing. Pulmonary edema is a serious medical condition in which the lung cavities fill with fluid.
It’s important that your doctor identify the cause of your edema so that it can be treated properly. Temporary edema can often be improved by reducing your salt intake and keeping your legs up when sitting.
Following are a few other things you can try to ease edema:
Here is some advice you may receive for specific conditions or situations:
Seek medical care immediately if your edema is suddenly worse, painful, or new, or if it’s associated with chest pain or trouble breathing.
To prevent edema, stay as physically active as you are able, avoid excess sodium in your diet, and follow your doctor’s orders regarding any conditions that cause edema.
Written by: David Heitz
Medically reviewed on: Dec 08, 2016: Judith Marcin, MD
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