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Last Updated: Oct 29, 2021
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Edema: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

About Causes Symptoms Causes Diagnose Precautions Treatment Eligibility Ineligibility Complication Side Effects Post-treatment Guidelines Recovery Cost Results Diet Home Remedies

What is the treatment?

Edema is defined as a medical condition, in which swelling occurs due to trapping of excess fluid within the body tissues. The inflammation of the body part can result from injury or any other reason. Some of the common causes of edema include liver cirrhosis, excess consumption of salt, skin infection, heart failure, as a side-effect of some medicines, kidney disorders, sunburn and others. It should be however, kept in mind that edema is not actually a disease. It is just a symptom.

The treatment of edema can be achieved by treating the diseases that causes this symptom. Mild edema reduces naturally on its own if the affected area is kept at a level higher than that of heart. The treatment of severe edema is done by medication, where the excess body fluids are eliminated from the body by the use of drugs known as diuretics. These body fluids are usually excreted from the body in the form of urine. An example of such a diuretic is Furosemide. However, the medicines prescribed by the doctor depend upon the personal history of the patient.

Long term treatment of edema mainly focuses on curing the causes that lead to these symptoms. However, if it is due the side-effect of any other drugs then the doctor should look into this matter and shoul make changes in the prescribed medicines.

A few home remedies to treat the problem of edema involve movement of the muscles of the area that has been with the symptom so that the excess fluid can be drained away, massaging of the affected area, applying compression to the affected area by using tight stockings, or gloves, reducing the consumption of salt in diet, protection of the affected area to prevent further infections.

What are the main causes of Edema?

Edema is caused due to any leakage of fluid from the minute blood vessels i.e capillaries. The leaked fluid gets trapped in the tissues of the body which leads to Edema. Some of the conditions in which this may occur include excessive consumption of salty food, being static in the same position for a longer duration, pregnancy, and during the premenstrual phase. It may result from side effects of certain medications such as steroids, NSAIDs, estrogen, and anti-hypertensive drugs.

What are the symptoms of Edema?

Edema means swelling which may be due to excess fluid accumulation in the body tissues. It shows some symptoms which are such as:

  1. Swelling in arms or legs.
  2. Changes in skin appearance such as shiny or stretched appearance.
  3. Retaining of the pits in the skin for more time than usual, after pressing it.
  4. Increase in the size of the abdomen.
  5. Some of the serious symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, and difficulty in breathing.

What causes Edema?

Edema is caused due to any leakage of fluid from the minute blood vessels i.e capillaries. The leaked fluid gets trapped in the tissues of the body which leads to edema. Some of the conditions in which this may occur include excessive consumption of salty food, being static in the same position for a longer duration, pregnancy, and during the premenstrual phase. It may result from side effects of certain medications such as steroids, NSAIDs, estrogen, and anti-hypertensive drugs.

Can Edema go away on its own?

The treatment methods of edema usually depend upon the severity of the condition. Mild cases of swelling may get controlled or managed either spontaneously or by the application of home remedies and self-care techniques. The techniques such as lifting the affected body parts to a level higher than that of the heart may work especially during sleep, provided it should be done many times a day.

Some self-care techniques include compression technique, massage therapy, movement of the specific area, and protection from injuries. These methods may prove to be effective and treatment is not required to be done.

How is Edema diagnosed?

The diagnosis of edema is usually done by the physical examination under the supervision of a specialist or dermatologist. This includes examining the skin over the affected area which may have the physical appearance of being shiny as well as stretched.

After that, the swollen area is pushed with a mild force for at least 15 seconds to check the appearance of any dimples on it. This is the diagnostic sign for edema, which after that may be confirmed by having some tests.

What to do when Edema?

Edema can be taken care of by implementing some home remedies or other self-care techniques under the supervision of a doctor. These include the following:

  • Movement in muscles of the swollen area.
  • Lifting the affected body part at a level higher than the level of heart.
  • Gentle massage on the swollen area.
  • The compression technique involves wearing compression stockings, gloves, or sleeves on the specific area after the remission, to prevent a recurrence.
  • Protection of the affected area from any injury and keeping it clean and moisturized.
  • Reduction in salt intake.
  • Application of drugs such as diuretics, in severe cases.

Should I go to urgent care for Edema?

Although symptoms of edema can undergo management and control by self-care techniques as well as home remedies in mild cases. However, there are certain conditions when edema may have serious symptoms and need urgent medical care and attention. If left untreated or having a delayed treatment it may lead to severe complications.

Such serious conditions include edema in the legs which is accompanied by swelling in the legs, feet, ankles, calves, and thighs. It may be associated with a heart disorder or blood clot, hence need an immediate consultation with a doctor. Some other concerning signs and symptoms include pain in the chest, difficulty in breathing, shortness of breath, dizziness, and coughing blood.

How is the treatment done?

Since edema is a symptom and not an actual disease, it needs professional diagnosis regarding the cause of the symptom, if the reason is unknown. Edema can occur both due to serious as well as some minor diseases. In order to treat this symptom the root cause has to be investigated and eliminated and this requires medical help from a doctor.

The treatment of this symptom involves maintaining a few basic things like having regular exercises, a healthy lifestyle, having a balanced diet, cutting out the intake of excess salts in one’s diet, applying compression in the area that has inflamed, massaging of the area where the swelling has taken place due to accumulation of body fluids, trying out herbal remedies that can reduce the swelling, maintaining a healthy skin by taking care of it, keeping the affected or swollen area slightly above the level of heart so that the fluid can drain away. In case, the cause of edema is a serious ailment, then the person should seek medical help from a doctor.

The practice of maintaining a healthy lifestyle involves doing regular exercises, walking briskly or slowly everyday for at least 15 minutes. Sitting for too long at a particular place may result the body fluids to stagnate within the muscle tissues of legs and arms and in such cases it is necessary to stretch out the arms and legs to facilitate circulation of blood and body fluids. A gentle massage at the inflamed area may also help at times to provide relief to the patients having such symptoms of edema

In the concern of food habits, a patient having edema must try to reduce the intake of salts or salt-rich food in their diet. It is advisable for them to take a balanced diet that includes fresh vegetables and fruits.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

There is no definite restriction of age or any other factor as such, regarding the treatment of edema. It must be kept in mind that edema is not a disease itself but a symptom of some other disease. Hence, the disorder that caused edema must be treated in order to cure this condition. Any person having the symptoms of edema must undergo a thorough diagnosis and once the disease is found, it must be treated accordingly.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

A person who does not have edema, is not elegible for undergoing a treatment.

When should I be concerned about Edema?

There are certain conditions when Edema may have serious symptoms and need urgent medical care and attention. Such serious conditions include Edema in the legs which are accompanied by swelling in the legs, feet, ankles, calves, and thighs. It may be associated with a heart disorder or blood clot, hence needing an immediate consultation with a doctor. Some other concerning signs and symptoms include chest pain in the chest, difficulty in breathing, shortness of breath, dizziness, and coughing blood.

Are there any side effects?

The treatment of edema is mainly done by the excretion of the body fluids through urine. This is done by a group of medicines called diuretics. Although these drugs are safe, some people are reported to have side effects. Some of the common side effects of using diuretics (for treatment of edema) include low level of sodium in blood, excess and frequent urination, nausea, electrolyte imbalance, arrhythmia, thirst, loss of appetite, nausea and muscle cramps.

Certain diuretics such as Thiazide can lead to blurred vision, hypoalkemia or lowered levels of potassium in the blood, can cause allergic reactions in people who are hypersensitive to this group of diuretics, impaired glucose control, increased level of uric acid, increased level of cholesterol. Patients suffering from diabetes or undergoing a treatment of gout are not recommended to take Thiazide for the treatment of edema. Potassium supplements must also be prescribed alongside.

What happens if Edema is left untreated?

In case when Edema is left untreated or in case of delayed treatment some complications may occur which include the following:

  • The increasing tendency of swelling which is much painful.
  • Muscles being stiffed.
  • Abnormal walking.
  • Skin is in the condition of itching and irritation.
  • Occurrence of skin ulcers.
  • Lowering of circulation of blood.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

The post treatment guidelines for edema include taking the prescribed medicines regularly, consulting with the doctor in case of any side effects, drinking plenty of water, having fresh fruits and vegetables in diet, reducing the intake salt in their diet. Massaging of the inflamed area should be done regularly to prevent accumulation of fluids within the tissues. The patient who had suffered from edema, should take care that the cause of this symptom is completely cured. For persons, who had swollen legs and arms should go for brisk or slow walks daily for at least 15 minutes, so that the fluids do not accumulate within the tissues of the limbs.

How long does it take to recover?

There is no specific time limit for curing edema. Since, it is a symptom, the total time required to completely cure edema depends upon the treatment of the cause of edema. Once the cause of edema is completely cured, the symptom of inflammation disappears completely. Temporarily relief is however achieved by taking medicines known as diuretics, regular exercises, massaging of the affected area and having a healthy balanced diet.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

The price of treatment of edema is different at different places in India. In metropolitan cities the price of treatment is relatively higher than in other small towns and cities of India. The price range varies from Rs 500 to Rs 900 per visit to the doctor and may be upto Rs 1200 in some metropolitan cities. The cost of the medicines is additional.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

The treatment of edema may or may not be permanent and it depends on the cause of edema. In order to permanently cure the problem of edema, care should be taken to cure the underlying disorder that has led to this symptom. Treatment of edema with diuretics alone, gives just a temporary relief to the patient because these groups of drugs (i.e. diuretics) are mainly concerned with flushing out the accumulated fluid in the body tissues through urine. Once the root cause for edema goes away, the problem of edema also disappears. For patients who are having edema due to some underlying permanent health problems, care should be taken to keep the cause of edema under control.

What to eat in Edema?

Food has an important link to edema as it affects the condition both in positive and negative ways. Hence it is important for us to know about the food items which may aid in controlling the symptoms as well as improving the condition. Those include:

  • Sources of vitamin B, as well as iron, include whole grains, dark leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale, sea vegetables.
  • Sources of diuretics vegetables such as asparagus, beets, parsley, onions, leafy greens, garlic, and pumpkin.
  • Sources of diuretics fruits such as pineapple, leeks, and grapes.
  • blueberries, cherries, and tomatoes.
  • Olive oil should be preferred for cooking.
  • Lean meats, tofu, and cold-water fish may be consumed.

What not to eat in Edema?

As food has a proven link with edema and it may have impacts on the condition, it is important for us to know about the food items which are not preferable in such conditions and need to be avoided. They may act as aggravating factors and can make the symptoms even worse. Some of such food items include:

  • Dairy products like cheese, milk, and ice cream.
  • Food items like soy, corn, foods containing preservatives and additives.
  • Whole grains like wheat.
  • High levels of salts must be avoided.
  • Refined foods like pasta, sugar, and white bread and processed foods.
  • Cookies, crackers, cakes, french fries, and margarine.
  • Tobacco and alcohol.

Will drinking more water help with Edema?

Drinking an adequate amount of water or fluids definitely helps in the control and management of the condition of Edema. In case when our body lacks needed amounts of water and fluids, it gets into a state of dehydration which ultimately leads to their retention in the body. This results in edema or swelling. Hence, preventing dehydration is a must for the betterment of this condition.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

The treatment of edema is mainly done using diuretics. However, this treatment can also be done by several natural ways. This includes undergoing massage therapy, consumption of cranberry juice, green tea, apple cider vinegar, coriander seeds, mustard oil, diet rich in vitamins, turmeric, ginger root tea, dandelion tea, oil of oregano, cater oil, Epsom salt and others.

For a permanent treatment of edema one must try to cure a main cause that has led to the problem of edema.

Physical Exercises for the people suffering from Edema:

Edema in the legs may be a serious complication if not treated properly or having delayed treatment. Some exercises are recommended which prove as a much effective remedy in minimizing or controlling the symptoms. Those include the following:

  1. Lifting the legs at a level higher than that of the heart.
  2. Exercising the toe by moving it in the inward and outward direction.
  3. Movement of the ankle in a circular direction both clockwise and counterclockwise.
  4. Inward and outward movement of the foot at the ankle joint.
  5. Exercising the ankles.
  6. The exercises are effective only when followed to be done on a regular basis and more frequently in a day.

Is cycling good for Edema?

Physical activities and exercises are always the keys to good health. These are some of the effective ways for the control and management of conditions like Edema. Aerobics exercises are the most preferred for the betterment of such conditions. Cycling, especially stationary cycling, is a form of exercise that has the maximum impact in reducing the condition of swelling such as Edema in the legs. A significant decrease in the swelling of feet has been observed experimentally with this exercise which takes some time to happen.

Summary: Edema means swelling which may be due to excess fluid accumulation in the body tissues due to leakage of fluid from capillaries. It may be caused due to being static in the same position for a longer duration, pregnancy and during the premenstrual phase. The condition can be controlled by lifting the affected body parts to a level higher than that of the heart or other methods like compression technique, massage therapy, movement of the specific area, and protection from injuries. It may lead to serious complications in case of delayed treatment.

Popular Questions & Answers

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