Edema Causes & Symptoms

Many ordinary factors can upset the balance of fluid in the body to cause edema. Some of the Edema causes & symptoms include:

Immobility
The leg muscles normally contract and compress blood vessels to promote blood flow with walking or running. When these muscles are not used, blood can collect in the veins, making it difficult for fluid to move from tissues back into the vessels.

Heat
Warm temperatures cause the blood vessels to expand, making it easier for fluid to cross into surrounding tissues. High humidity also aggravates this situation.

Medications
Certain drugs, such as steroids, hormone replacements, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and some blood pressure medications may affect how fast fluid leaves blood vessels.

Intake of salty foods
The body needs a constant concentration of salt in its tissues. When excess salt is taken in, the body dilutes it by retaining fluid.

Menstruation and pregnancy
The changing levels of hormones affect the rate at which fluid enters and leaves the tissues.


Some medical conditions may also cause edema, including:

Heart failure
When the heart is unable to maintain adequate blood flow throughout the circulatory system, the excess fluid pressure within the blood vessels can cause shifts into the interstitial spaces. Left-sided heart failure can cause pulmonary edema, as fluid shifts into the lungs. The patient may develop rapid, shallow respirations, shortness of breath, and a cough. Right-sided heart failure can cause pitting edema, a swelling in the tissue under the skin of the lower legs and feet. Pressing this tissue with a finger tip leads to a noticeable momentary indentation.

Kidney disease
The decrease in sodium and water excretion can result in fluid retention and overload.

Thyroid or liver disease
These conditions can change the concentration of protein in the blood, affecting fluid movement in and out of the tissues. In advanced liver disease, the liver is enlarged and fluid may build-up in the abdomen.

Malnutrition
Protein levels are decreased in the blood, and in an effort to maintain a balance of concentrations, fluid shifts out of the vessels and causes edema in tissue spaces.

Some conditions that may cause swelling in just one leg include:
Blood clots
Clots can cause pooling of fluid and may be accompanied by discoloration and pain. In some instances, clots may cause no pain.

Weakened veins
Varicose veins, or veins whose walls or valves are weak, can allow blood to pool in the legs. This is a common condition.

Infection and inflammation
Infection in leg tissues can cause inflammation and increasing blood flow to the area. Inflammatory diseases, such as gout or arthritis, can also result in swelling.

Lymphedema
Blocked lymph channels may be caused by infection, scar tissue, or hereditary conditions. Lymph that can’t drain properly results in edema. Lymphedema may also occur after cancer treatments, when the lymph system is impaired by surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy.

Tumor
Abnormal masses can compress leg vessels and lymph channels, affecting the rate of fluid movement. Symptoms vary depending on the cause of edema. In general, weight gain, puffy eyelids, and swelling of the legs may occur as a result of excess fluid volume. Pulse rate and blood pressure may be elevated. Hand and neck veins may be observed as fuller.


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