Edema is swelling or puffiness of parts of the body. Edema usually happens in the feet, ankles, and legs. It also can affect the face and hands. Pregnant women and older adults often get edema, but it can happen to anyone.
- Peripheral edema: This affects the feet, ankles, legs, hands, and arms. Symptoms include swelling, puffiness, and difficulty moving certain parts of the body.
- Pulmonary edema: This occurs when excess fluid collects in the lungs, making breathing difficult. This can result from congestive heart failure or acute lung injury. It is a serious condition, it can be a medical emergency, and it can lead to respiratory failure and death.
- Cerebral edema: This occurs in the brain. It can happen for a range of reasons, many of which are potentially life threatening.
- Edema can occur as a result of gravity, especially from sitting or standing in one place for too long.
- Edema can happen from a weakening in the valves of the veins in the legs.
- Certain diseases — such as congestive heart failure and lung, liver, kidney, and thyroid diseases — can cause edema or make it worse.
- An allergic reaction, severe inflammation, burns, trauma, or poor nutrition can also cause edema.
- Too much salt from your diet can make edema 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.
- swollen, stretched, and shiny skin
- skin that retains a dimple after a few seconds of pressure
- puffiness of the ankles, face, or eyes
- aching body parts and stiff joints
- weight gain or weight loss
- decreased urine production
- fuller hand and neck veins
- visual anomalies
- Elevate your legs when you are sitting or lying down.
- If you have edema of the legs, wear support stockings. You can buy these at most drugstores. Support stockings put pressure on your legs to keep fluid from collecting in your legs and ankles.
- Do not sit or stand for long periods of time without moving around.
- Follow your doctor’s advice about limiting how much salt you eat.
- Put a pillow under your legs when you are lying down or sitting for prolonged periods.
- Protect any swollen areas from additional pressure, injury, and extreme temperatures.
Edema can be temporary or permanent, depending on its cause. Edema is treated according to the condition that is causing it.