Edema is a kind of swelling caused due to excess fluid trapped in the tissues of the body. It is also known as ‘oedema’ in few countries like UK, Ireland and Australia. The swelling caused due to edema can occur in hands, legs, feet, ankles and arms and is linked to lymphatic systems of the body. Edema can happen gradually or even suddenly with symptoms like weight gain or puffy eyes. Edema cannot be fully diagnosed until sufficient symptoms erupt. It is usually caused due to leaking tissue which makes the surrounding parts of the body swell.
There are various types of edema and some, like angioedema, can be fatal if proper treatment is not provided in due time. One ‘good thing’ about edema, however, is that it’s rather easily identifiable as there are marked changed in different parts of body.
Possible Causes of Edema
It is usually caused due to physical inactivity or with people who stand or sit for long hours. It could also be caused due to recent surgeries, high altitude, heat, burns and often during pregnancy. Menstruation imbalance, contraceptive pills, menopause, inappropriate medication, excessive salt intake and malnutrition or imbalanced diet could also be one of the reasons behind edema. People suffering from kidney damage, heart failure, chronic lung and liver diseases, diabetes, arthritis, thyroid and brain or head injury are more prone to edema.
Symptoms And Diagnosis of Edema
A generalized edema can bring out several symptoms like swelling, stretching or shinning of skin, puffiness on the ankles, face or eyes; aching body parts, stiffer joints, abrupt weight gain or loss, fuller hand and neck veins, raised pulse rate or high blood pressure and increased abdominal size. If someone if gradually noticing any of these symptoms, it could possibly be edema. Usually a GP asks couple of questions from the patient to know the cause of edema. This may include their medical history, the tenure of signs being existent, current condition of health, etc. and would like to perform tests like liver test, heart function tests, x-ray, and blood and urine test to understand the condition further.
Medical Treatments For Edema
Once the medical practitioner is able to diagnose the condition of patient, they can prescribe suitable medication for the treatment. The medical treatments may include drugs like Diuretics, which raises the rate of urination and help the excess fluid get flushed out of the body. However, this kind of treatment can’t be applied to pregnant patients. Other treatments may involve antiangiogenesis therapy which control the blood vessel growth and oxygen therapy that improves poor vision caused due to diabetic macular edema.
When you visit your general practitioner, he/she would also recommend you few tips to get rid of edema quickly. That may include cutting down on salt consumption, loosing considerable weight in case of overweight patients, regular exercises to keep the body fitter and even smaller aspects like wearing supporting stocks. People suffering from edema should also avoid staying or sitting at a place for too long since immobility would only worsen the conditions. Few patients are advised massage in the affected areas so that it may move the fluid with body circulation. The only caution that should be observed while massaging is that it should be stopped immediately if any severe pain arises.
Last but not the least, edema is a disease which could be caused due to numerous reasons and therefore knowing the causes, signs and symptoms objectively would help anyone get better treatment to get rid of it. If the root cause of edema is not treated properly, the consequences could be fatal and may lead to stiffness, itchy and bothersome skin, awkward gait and the swollen area can become infected at times. So if you notice any of the above mentioned signs or symptoms erupting in your body, you should immediately get yourself diagnosed before things get worse.