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Water retention, what is it? Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Water retention, also called “edema” is a build-up of water within a tissue.

Definition of a water retention

Water retention is an accumulation of water within a tissue of the body, causing its swelling . Water retention is more commonly called edema . These swellings can develop in a well-identified part of the body, or can be found in different places (tissues) of the body.

The fluid, at the origin of the edema, accumulates more generally at the level of the lower part of the leg or on the ankles. In addition, the edema can also be “internal”, developing within organs, such as the lungs for example.

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Beyond swelling and swelling in the skin, edema can also be at the source:

  • skin discoloration ;
  • an increase in temperature at the affected area;
  • of numbness ;
  • stiffness of some members;
  • weight gain .

Different types of water retention are to be differentiated. The majority locations are the feet and ankles. Nevertheless, other forms are also known:

  • cerebral edema ;
  • pulmonary edema ;
  • Macular edema (affecting the eyes).

Causes of water retention

Swelling, and swelling, is “normal” consequences widely seen in the legs and ankles, following a long sitting position or a static standing over a period of time.

However, other origins and / or conditions are more involved in fluid accumulation. Among these, we can note:

  • the pregnancy ;
  • kidney diseases ( nephropathies );
  • heart disorders ( heart disease );
  • of chronic lung disease ;
  • of suffering from the thyroid ;
  • the malnutrition ;
  • certain medications , such as corticosteroids, or those used against hypertension;
  • The contraceptive pill.

Other causes, less common, may also cause water retention: blood clots or varicose veins, surgery or after a major burn.

Water retention in pregnancy

The pregnancy is a factor of edema development. Explanations can be brought to this subject, in particular the secretion of hormones (estrogens and progesterones), favoring the retention of water. But also vasodilation (increase in the size of the blood vessels) or weight gain.

Symptoms and treatments of fluid retention

Symptoms of water retention

The first symptom of water retention is visible swelling, usually in the lower limbs (legs, ankles, etc.) but can also affect other body parts.

The internal edema may be similar to bloating (especially in the stomach when water retention affects the stomach, intestines, or the liver).

In the context of edema in the face, a “chubby” or “puffy” appearance may be felt by the patient.

Due to the accumulation of fluid within the body, weight gain can also be associated with water retention.

How to prevent and treat these swellings?

The prevention of water retention is mainly about limiting the static sitting or standing position for a prolonged period.

In the context of the observation of edema following a drug treatment, consult the doctor and expose him these aspects, in order to reassess the prescription of the treatment.

In the majority of cases, the edema arrives and disappears quickly and spontaneously.

If the symptoms of water retention persist over time, it is advisable to consult the doctor as soon as possible.

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Advice may then be prescribed as part of the duration of the symptoms:

  • the weight loss , within the framework of overweight;
  • The daily physical activity most important (walking, swimming, cycling, etc.);
  • promote leg movements 3 to 4 times a day to promote blood circulation;
  • Avoid static positions for long periods.

If the signs persist beyond these recommendations, medications then exist: diuretics.

Dietary modifications may also be recommended for water retention. Including reducing salt intake, moisturizing more abundantly, promoting protein intake, promoting draining foods (grapefruit, artichoke, celery, etc.).

Lymphatic drainage is also a solution in the management of water retention. We then differentiate passive drainage from active drainage. In the first case, it is performed through massage by a physiotherapist . In the second, it is particularly the result of a physical activity.

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