What is Edema?
This is a medical term referred to as the swelling of body parts as a result of injury or inflammation. A small area or the entire body could be affected.
Edema occurs when there is an escape of the fluid by small blood vessels into nearby tissues, this makes extra fluid to build up, which in turn makes the tissue swell. This can happen almost anywhere in the body.
Types of Edema
Peripheral Edema: This normally affects parts of the body such as the legs, feet, and ankles, and in few cases, the arms. It may be an indication of problems with your circulatory system, lymph nodes, or kidneys.
Pedal Edema: This is when there are fluid gathers in your feet and lower legs. This is usually more common in older people or pregnant women. Movement can become really difficult as there isn’t much sensation in the feet.
Lymph Edema: This is swelling in the arms and legs. This is most often caused by damage to the lymph nodes, tissues that help separate germs and waste materials from the body. The damage may come about from the result of cancer treatments like surgery and radiation. Cancer itself can as well block lymph nodes, which could lead to a buildup of fluid.
Pulmonary Edema: This is a condition that happens when there is a collection of fluid in the air sacs or in the lungs, which makes it difficult for one to breathe, and it gets worse when one lies down. A person with a pulmonary Edema condition may have a fast heartbeat, feel suffocated, or cough up foamy spittle that could have a trace of blood sometimes.
Cerebral Edema: This is a very severe complication in which there is a buildup of fluid in the brain. It can occur if one hits his/her head hard or if a blood vessel bursts or gets blocked, or if one has a tumor or an allergic reaction.
Macular Edema: This happens when there is a buildup of fluid in a part of the eye, also known as the “Macula,” which is the center of the retina, the light-sensitive tissue located at the back of the eye. This occurs when blood vessels that are damaged in the retina leak fluid into that area.
Causes of Edema
So many things like a twisted ankle, a bee sting, or a skin infection in most cases can cause Edema.
Edema can also result from other conditions or from when there is an imbalance of substances in the blood.
Low albumin: Also known as Hypoalbuminemia Albumin, and other proteins in the blood act like sponges to retain fluid in the blood vessels. Low levels of albumin in the body may result in Edema.
Allergic reactions are caused by the escape of fluid into the affected area by blood vessels.
A blood clot developing in the deep veins of the leg.
A tumor that causes a blockage in the flow of blood or another fluid called lymph can cause Edema.
Severe illnesses such as burns, life-threatening infections, or other serious illnesses can cause a reaction that allows the leakage of fluid into tissues.
Congestive heart failure is created as a result of the weakening of the heart, which causes poor functioning of the heart and then the gradual buildup of fluid, thereby causing leg edema. If fluid builds up fast, one can get fluid in the lungs, and if there’s a heart failure on the right side of your heart, then Edema could form in the abdomen.
Liver disease: serious liver disease such as cirrhosis could cause one to keep fluid. Cirrhosis can also lead to low levels of albumin and other proteins in the blood. Fluid may also leak into the abdomen and cause leg edema.
Kidney disease: A kidney condition known as Nephrotic syndrome may cause severe leg edema and sometimes Edema of the whole body.
Pregnancy: mild leg edema is often common during pregnancy. But serious complications of pregnancy like deep vein thrombosis and preeclampsia can also lead to Edema.
Other causes may include:
· Head trauma
· Low blood sodium (called hyponatremia),
· High altitudes
· Brain tumors
· An obstruction in fluid drainage of the brain (known as hydrocephalus) can cause cerebral Edema.
· Headaches, confusion, unconsciousness, and coma could also cause Edema.
There are numerous medicines that can cause Edema but mildly, such as:
· NSAIDs (Ibuprofen and naproxen)
· Calcium Channel Blockers
· Corticosteroids (such as Prednisone and Methylprednisolone)
· Pioglitazone and Rosiglitazone
Symptoms of Edema
Symptoms of Edema variably depend on the underlying cause, type of Edema, location of the Edema.
A person with Edema may notice:
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea and Vomiting
- High pulse rate
- High blood pressure
- Puffiness of the ankles, face, or eyes
- Weight gain or loss
- Swollen, stretched, and shiny skin
- Aching body parts and stiff joints
- Visual abnormalities
- Confusion and Lethargy
Treatment of Edema
Treatment of Edema highly depends on the cause of Edema.
Diuretics. Diuretics are a type of medication that helps get rid of excess fluid by increasing the rate of production of urine by the kidneys.
Each type of Edema requires specific treatment.
Some self-care techniques can help stop or reduce the effects of Edema.
· Exercising regularly
· Losing weight
· Cutting down on consumption of salt
· Not sitting down or standing for too long
· Avoiding intense temperatures such as hot baths, showers, etc
· Raising the legs as frequently as possible to improve circulation
· Wearing supportive stockings
· Dressing warmly in cold weather conditions
Also, one may reach out to a masseuse or physical therapist to help remove fluid buildup by stroking strongly in the direction of the heart.
Oxygen may also be needed in the treatment of some kinds of Edema. An individual with pulmonary Edema may need additional oxygen if they have problems taking an inadequate amount of oxygen.
Oxygen rendered to the body through the nose may improve poor vision caused by diabetic Macular Edema.
Complications that Could Result from Edema
- Painful swelling
- Stretchy and Itchy skin
- Infection in the area of swelling
- Poor blood circulation
- Loss of elasticity in the arteries, joints, and veins
- Scarring between the layers of tissue
Any underlying medical condition needs to be treated to prevent it from becoming more serious.
To prevent Edema, one must first know its causes that way, Edema is being prevented.
In conclusion, not all cases of Edema are severe; some could be mild and require medication to heal. Whatever may be the case, it is very important to note that Edema, if left untreated, may result in a lot of life-threatening cases and conditions.
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