Edema (also known as dropsy or fluid retention) is swelling caused by the accumulation of abnormally large amounts of fluid in the spaces between the body’s cells (interstitial spaces). It is a symptom rather than a disease or disorder. Widespread, long-term edema can indicate a serious underlying disorder, such as AIDS, cirrhosis of the liver, congestive heart failure, diabetes, or vena cava syndrome. More simply, edema can occur as a result of infection, prolonged bed rest, or allergies.
Signs and Symptoms:
- dependent edema -Swelling that involves the legs and ankles.
- periorbital edema – Swelling around the eyes.Corneal stroma is edema of the cornea
- Anasarca is generalized edema.
Note that there are many forms of edema in addition to the four mentioned above. In addition, edema in one leg (pitting or not) requires medical attention as it usually indicates a blood clot.
Other conditions that can cause swelling to one or both legs include:
• Blood clot
• Leg infection
• Venous insufficiency (when the veins in your legs are unable to adequately pump blood back to the heart)
• Varicose veins
• Burns including sunburn
• Insect bite or sting
• Starvation or malnutrition
• Surgery to your leg or foot
Certain medications may also cause your legs to swell:
• Hormones like estrogen (in birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy) and testosterone
• A group of blood pressure lowering drugs called calcium channel blockers (such as nifedipine, amlodipine, diltiazem, felodipine, and verapamil)
• Antidepressants, including MAO inhibitors (such as phenelzine and tranylcypromine) and tricyclics (such as nortriptyline, desipramine, and amitriptyline)
Nutrition & Edema
Eliminating food allergens from your diet decreases inflammation.
A low-salt, high-protein diet may help edema. (However, you should not eat a high-protein diet if you have kidney disease.) You should also reduce your intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates.
Vitamin B6 (50 to 100 mg per day) is a diuretic. The B vitamin thiamine may be supplemented (200 mg per day). It is important to take a B-complex vitamin with meals, as a full stomach can offset the side effect of nausea. Excellent sources for the B vitamins include dark leafy vegetables, whole grains, soybeans, oatmeal, lima beans, turkey, tuna, asparagus. Overcooking, canning, long-term storage of vegetables can decrease the B vitamins in food, so they are best eaten when they are fresh.
Vitamins C (1,000 to 1,500 mg three times a day), E (400 to 800 IU per day), and coenzyme Q10 (50 to 100 mg two times per day)
Potassium is very important if taking diuretics. It helps to keep fluids on the inside of the cells. (99 mg daily).
Magnesium (200 mg two to three times per day. Excellent sources of magnesium are soybeans, brussel sprouts, wheat germ, peanuts, and leafy green vegetables.
Calcium (1,000 mg per day) help maintain fluid exchange in the body.
Avoid alcohol, animal protein, caffeine, chocolate, fried foods, gravies, olives, pickles, salt, soy sauce, tobacco, white flour and white sugar.