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Edema: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

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.

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.

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 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 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.

Safety: Medium Effectiveness: High Timeliness: Medium Relative Risk: Medium Side Effects: Low Time For Recovery: Medium Price Range: Rs 500 – Rs 1200

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