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What is Edema?

Edema Examination

You may be asking yourself, What is Edema? Edema is swelling that is caused by fluid trapped in your body’s tissues. Often it occurs most often in the feet, ankles, and legs but can affect other parts of the body, such as the face, hands, and abdomen. It can also involve the entire body.


Edema has many possible causes:

  • It can occur due to gravity, especially from sitting or standing in one place for too long. Water naturally gets pulled down into your legs and feet.
  • Edema can happen from a weakening in the valves of the veins in the legs (a condition called venous insufficiency). This problem makes it hard for the veins to push blood back up to the heart, leading to varicose veins and a buildup of fluid in the legs.
  • Certain diseases — such as congestive heart failure and lung, liver, kidney, and thyroid diseases — can cause or make it worse.
  • Some drugs, such as medications that you are taking for your blood pressure or control pain, may cause or worsen the condition.
  • An allergic reaction, severe inflammation, burns, trauma, clot(s), or poor nutrition can also cause edema.
  • Too much salt from your diet can make the condition worse.
  • Being pregnant can cause edema in the legs as the uterus puts pressure on the blood vessels in the lower trunk of the body.
Edema Diagram

Edema Symptoms

Signs that you might have edema include the following:

  • The affected area is swollen.
  • The skin over the swollen area might look stretched and shiny.
  • Pushing in gently on the swollen area with your finger for at least 5 seconds and then removing your finger will leave a dimple in the skin.
  • You may have swelling in the legs giving you trouble walking.
  • You may be coughing or have trouble breathing if you have edema in the lungs.

To keep swelling down, your health care provider may recommend keeping your legs raised when sitting, wearing support stockings, limiting how much salt you eat, or taking a medicine called a diuretic – also called a water pill.

If you feel like you are experiencing any signs of edema, give us a call to schedule a consultation today at 904-222-6656.

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