What is edema?

Edema is swelling that is caused by fluid trapped in your body’s tissues. It is a symptom of an underlying problem or problems, rather than a disease unto itself. Edema happens most often in the feet, ankles, and legs. Other parts of the body such as the face and hands can also be affected.

What causes edema?

Several conditions can lead to edema, including thyroid disease, poor nutrition, and a high salt intake. If you think you might have edema, see a doctor. Additional causes of edema include:

Gravity: Edema can occur as a result of gravity, especially from sitting or standing in one place for too long. Water naturally gets pulled down into your legs and feet and can cause swelling or water retention.

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.

Pregnancy: Being pregnant can cause edema in the legs as the uterus puts pressure on the blood vessels in the lower trunk of the body.

Untreated High Blood Pressure: High blood pressure that is not treated can lead to edema.

Congestive Heart Failure: If the heart cannot pump blood through the body, some of the blood might accumulate in the lower body. 

Hormonal Issues: Changing levels of hormones affect the rate at which fluid enters and leaves the tissues.

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