Edema: Causes and Cures

Edema: Causes and Cures

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  1. Many American’s suffer from edema without knowing what they have, and what is causing it. Edema is the accumulation of abnormal levels of fluid in the interstitial tissue. This condition often causes tissue underneath the skin to swell and is common when lymphatic blockage occurs. Swelling occurs when an increase in the volume of blood causes the vessels to dilate. Blood vessel walls weaken as they dilate causing lymph fluid to diffuse into surrounding tissue space. This excess fluid gets trapped in the body’s tissue in a greater capacity than the lymphatic system can eliminate.

    Edema is commonly caused by:

    • Physical inactivity
    • Genetic predisposition
    • Standing or sitting for long periods of time
    • Surgery
    • Burns
    • Heat
    • High Altitudes
    • Pregnancy
    • MS & PMS
    • Certain medications
    • Excessive salt intake
    • Contraceptive Pill
    • Menopause
    • Poor diet
    • Kidney disease/damage
    • Heart failure
    • Chronic lung disease
    • Liver disease
    • Diabetes
    • Arthritis
    • Thyroid disease
    • Brain tumor
    • Head injury

    Symptoms of edema may include localized or generalized swelling of the skin, skin may feel tight and stretched, puffiness of the ankles, face or eyes, weight gain, increased localized heat radiating from skin’s surface, hypertension, stiff joints and aching body parts.

    A severe case of edema known as "pitting edema" exists if skin retains a dimple after being pressed for 10 to 20 seconds. If you think you have systemic edema (caused by a malfunction of one or more of the systems in your body) or pitting edema, you should seek the advice of a medical practitioner immediately.

    In order to treat edema a doctor has to diagnose what is causing it.

    Treatments Include:

    • Diuretics
    • Oxygen Therapy
    • Antiangiogenesis therapy (controlling blood vessel growth)

    At home treatments often times recommended by doctors include:

    • Walk regularly when traveling by car, train, boat or plane
    • Wear support stockings
    • Do regular exercise
    • Decreasing salt intake
    • If overweight, loss weight
    • Raise legs when sleeping & several times daily
    • Do not stand or sit for long periods at a time
    • Massage by a qualified therapist (pressure must be light to moderate and movement must flow in the direction of the heart.

    Massage is a contraindication for systemic and pitting edema, but is highly recommended for less severe edema.

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