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Fluid Retention -Procedures, Side effects, Recovery time, Costs and alternatives

What is Fluid Retention? How is the treatment done? Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?) Who is not eligible for the treatment? Are there any side effects? What are the post-treatment guidelines? How long doesit take to recover? What is the treatment price in India? Are the results of the treatment permanent? What are the alternatives to the treatment?

What is Fluid Retention?

Fluid retention in the body is known by many names. It can be referred to as dropsy which is an ‎old fashioned name for fluid retention. The medical term for fluid retention is oedema. Fluid ‎leaks continuously from the blood into the body tissues. A network of tubes commonly referred ‎to as the lymphatic system is responsible for draining out the fluid from the tissues. When the ‎fluid does not get removed from the tissues the problem of fluid retention is experienced. This ‎accumulation of the fluid in the tissues results in swollen tissues. Fluid retention can be classified ‎into two categories first is generalized oedema in which there is swelling throughout the body ‎and the other is localized oedema. In localized oedema, only specific parts of the body are ‎swollen. The other types of oedema are pulmonary oedema which affects the lungs, macular ‎oedema which affects the eyes, and cerebral oedema which affects the brain. When a doctor is ‎not able to find any cause of oedema then that condition is referred to as idiopathic oedema.‎

The conditions that may cause fluid retention in a patient are given below

  • During the summers the body is usually less efficient in removing the fluids from the ‎tissues.‎
  • Burn injuries can lead to retention of fluid.‎
  • When a patient stands for a very long time the fluid gets accumulated in the lower legs of ‎the tissue.‎
  • Fluid retention can be observed in some women two weeks before the menstrual cycle.‎
  • Fluid retention can happen due to dietary deficiencies like vitamin B1 and protein.‎
  • Certain drugs like blood pressure medicines, corticosteroids, and NSAIDs can cause fluid ‎retention.‎
  • The hormones in the pregnancy can lead to retention of fluid.‎
  • Consuming high salt food products can lead to fluid retention.‎

Besides these, fluid retention may be a symptom of other critical medical condition. Some of the ‎medical conditions that may cause fluid retention are kidney disease, chronic liver disease, lung ‎disease, thyroid disease, autoimmune diseases, arthritis, and heart diseases.‎ The treatment for fluid retention depends upon the underlying cause being diagnosed as early as ‎possible. ‎

How is the treatment done?

The problem of fluid retention gets treated automatically if the underlying condition leading to ‎an imbalance of fluid gets treated.‎ For treating the fluid retention in the patients a doctor may recommend some activities to be ‎done by the patients themselves. These activities are

  • A patient is advised to raise their legs for at least three times a day so the circulation in the ‎legs can improve.‎
  • If the doctor suspects that fluid retention is due to standing for long duration then the doctor ‎advises the patient to avoid standing for long periods of time.‎
  • If the weighs more than what their normal weight should be then a doctor may recommend ‎losing weight to those patients.
  • A doctor may advise a patient to include exercises like swimming, cycling, and walking.‎
  • Medications: For treating the problem of retention of fluid in the patients a doctor may prescribe ‎diuretic medicines. The diuretic medicine drains the fluid out of their body by increasing the ‎number of times a patient has to undergo urination.‎

    For treating fluid retention a doctor may advise a patient to consume a diet that is low in salt ‎content. If fluid retention is due to hypothyroidism then treatment of the condition using ‎thyroxine helps in the draining of the fluids from the body. If the fluid retention is due to a ‎patient consuming any medicine the doctor treats this condition by replacing those medicines ‎with the ones that do not cause fluid retention. If fluid retention does not get treated by normal ‎measures in kidney disease then a doctor may order dialysis of the patient. If the cause of fluid ‎retention is chronic liver disease then the doctor may advise a patient to avoid alcohol and reduce ‎the water intake. If the fluid retention is due to malnutrition in the person then a doctor may ‎recommend some dietary supplements. A doctor may advise a patient to wear support stockings ‎for reducing fluid retention as it improves the blood flow in the legs.‎

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

A patient is eligible for the treatment if the following symptoms are exhibited by the patient

  • If the body parts of the patient like ankles, hands, and feet are swollen then that ‎patient is eligible for the treatment.‎
  • The joints of the patient are stiff then it may be due to fluid retention thus making ‎the patient eligible for the treatment.‎‎
  • A patient would experience pain in the body parts that are affected due to fluid ‎retention.‎‎
  • A patient having a problem of fluid retention would gain weight within a few days ‎or maybe a few weeks.‎‎
  • The patient would observe fluctuations in his/her weight.‎
  • On pressing the skin of the patient an indent is made on the surface.‎‎
  • In some cases, the indent would not be caused after pressing the skin.‎ Patient with some underlying medical condition is also eligible for the treatment of fluid ‎retention as it is one of the symptoms of those diseases.‎

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

The eligibility of a patient for the treatment is decided by the doctor. Based on the diagnosis ‎through blood tests, and scans a doctor decides which patient is eligible and which patient is not ‎eligible for the treatment. A patient having swelling due to an inflammation of the muscles is not ‎eligible for the treatment of fluid retention. A patient that does not have the problem of fluid ‎retention is not eligible for the treatment. There is also a scenario wherein a patient may not be ‎eligible for a particular line of treatment for the disease. For instance, a patient who is allergic to ‎the use of diuretic cannot get treated with this medicine.‎

Are there any side effects?

Side effects are an integral part of treatment. the side effects are observed irrespective of the ‎treatment through medicine, surgery or injectable. The side effects range from being minor to ‎major. If minor side effects occur it usually vanishes after a brief period of time. In case a patient ‎experiences any major side effect then a doctor must be informed immediately. The side effects ‎usually vary from an individual to an individual. Given below is a non-exhaustive list of the side ‎effects observed in a patient when diuretic medicine is given for the treatment of fluid retention

  • Loose Motions
  • A headache
  • Excessively reduced sodium levels
  • Very low potassium levels
  • Gout
  • Lightheadedness
  • Allergic reaction on the skin
  • Increased thirst.‎
  • Cramping of the muscles
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Increased level of blood sugar.‎

If the fluid retention is due to an underlying cause then the side effects would be governed by ‎the type of treatment given by the doctor to the patient. For instance, if fluid retention is due to ‎hypothyroidism and the doctor prescribes thyroxine for the treatment of the condition then the ‎side effects associated with the use of thyroxine are nervousness, irritability, sweating, fever, ‎fluttering in the chest, insomnia, and fever.‎

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

The post-treatment guidelines are a set of activities which are required to be followed by the ‎patient. The post-treatment guidelines have been very helpful in the recovery of the patient. these ‎guidelines not only help in the recovery but it also helps in the prevention of the disease occurring ‎in the future. The post-treatment guidelines to be followed after the treatment of fluid retention ‎are

  • Diuretic medicine must be taken as advised by the doctor.‎
  • The amount of salt intake in the food must be reduced. Foods like salted ‎peanuts and potato chips must be avoided.
  • The dietary supplements advised by the doctor for malnutrition must be ‎taken as advised.‎
  • The patient must avoid standing for a longer period of time.‎
  • The support stocking must be worn by the patients
  • Extreme temperatures like saunas, hot baths, and showers must be avoided.‎

How long doesit take to recover?

There is no specific time limit in which the person recovers from the problem of fluid retention. ‎As fluid retention is just a symptom the complete recovery of the patient would depend on the ‎treatment of the underlying cause of fluid retention. A patient, however, recovers temporarily by ‎using medicines like diuretics.‎

What is the treatment price in India?

The price for the treatment of fluid retention varies as per the location, experience of the doctor ‎and the treatment which the patient would have to undergo. The consultation fees of the doctor ‎would range from 500 to 1000 rupees depending upon the experience of the doctor. In metro ‎cities, the consultation fees of the doctor would be around 1500 rupees. The cost of medicines ‎for the treatment would be additional.‎

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

The result of the treatment for fluid retention may or may not be permanent. The result of the ‎treatment would be governed by the cause of fluid retention. For the permanent cure for fluid ‎retention, the underlying cause must be treated. Treating fluid retention with medicine like ‎diuretic is only a temporary treatment. ‎

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

Apart from the treatment of fluid retention described above, there are some natural remedies for ‎the treatment of the condition. Grapefruit essential oil is an exceptional way of reducing the ‎swelling associated with fluid retention. Herbal diuretic has been a very effective natural diuretic ‎for treating this condition. Consumption of the cranberry juice can be very effective in this ‎condition.‎

Popular Questions & Answers

My mother aged 85 who is bed bound had 2-3 episodes of hematuria. She was hospitalized and urine sample was collected with the help of a catheter. Her urine routine showed 75-80 pus cells but urine culture and sensitivity test showed no microbial growth. Her usg kub shows that she's having more than 500 cc urine retention. One kidney shows hydronephrosis with dilated ureter. Her abdominal scan shows that her bladder wall is trabeculated with diverticula. She was treated with antibiotics and her urologist prescribed niftas 100 mg 1 tab for 3 months, macpee 25 mg 3 tabs/day for 2 months and veltam 0.4 mg 1 tab for two months. Within 10 days she again had episodes of hematuria which lasted for 2-3 days. Her doc prescribed zifi 200 2 tabs per day for 7 days. After two days of zifi bleeding in urine stopped. Currently she's complaining of lower abdominal pain sometimes and strange discomfort. On checking her spo2 it shows fluctuation and there is increase in pulse rate. Today her pulse jumped to 128 and spo2 dropped to 76 and then normalised to 98. Her pulse rate has never come out to be high and spo2 has never fluctuated this much. Does macpee, veltam cause side effects? If so, whatever my mother is experiencing are the side effects of the meds she's on? She's completed approx 25 days of macpee and veltam and 30 days of niftas 100. Does she require a catheter for urinary retention? We are quite apprehensive in going for the catheter as she may try to pull it out leading to injury. My mother has history of hiatus hernia, oesophageal stricture, oesophageal ulcers, uti, osteoporosis and age-related dementia. She was having hypertension since past sev years but from past one month she is off the antihypertensive as her bp comes out to be normal. please advise. Thanks a lot.

MBBS Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, MS - General Surgery, Fellowship in Minimal Access Surgery(FMAS) & Reproductive Medicine, Diploma In Laparoscopy
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Sorry to hear about how your mother has suffered so much I am here to help however I can. (1) puss cells in urine but no growth on culture could indicate "sterile pyuria" which is common in elderly women. Possible reason for this may also be recen...
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