Edema is another word for swelling. It is caused by excess fluid leaking from your capillaries (tiny blood vessels) into the surrounding tissue. When this extra fluid builds up, the tissue swells. The swollen site may be red, painful, inflamed, and warm or hot to the touch. Edema can happen anywhere in the body but is more common in the extremities: the arms, hands, legs, and feet. Sometimes taking medication can reduce edema, but in order to reduce edema stemming from a disease, the underlying disease must be treated.
Edema Symptoms and Causes
Edema has many different causes. It can stem from allergies, bug bites, eating too much salt, being pregnant or having premenstrual symptoms, or even from being in one position too long. These are usually minor cases and can be easily treated at home.
Taking medications such as those for high blood pressure, steroids, estrogens, and some diabetes medications can cause edema. In this case, talk to your doctor to find out if it is something that needs to be addressed.
If edema is caused by underlying diseases or serious allergies, it may be time to go to urgent care or the emergency room.
- Swollen legs, ankles, and feet can be from congestive heart failure and you need to contact your doctor.
- Swollen legs and abdomen can stem from cirrhosis of the liver and you should seek medical help.
- Swollen legs in conjunction with swollen eyes could be kidney disease or kidney damage and you should call your doctor or seek medical help if you believe this is the cause.
- Sudden swelling accompanied by pain in the calf can be due to a blood clot and you must seek immediate care.
- Allergies to an insect bite/sting leading to inflammation of the tongue and throat must seek immediate medical attention.
- Allergies to food leading to inflammation of the tongue and throat must seek immediate medical attention as well.
Types of Edema
- Pedal edema- affects lower legs, ankles, and feet. Possible causes: pregnancy, being older
- Peripheral edema/Lymphedema- affects the arms, legs, and feet. Possible causes: lymph nodes, kidneys or cancer treatment
- Pulmonary edema- affects lungs, makes it hard to breathe, especially when lying down. Causes: fluid in the lungs
- Cerebral edema- affects the brain. Causes: head trauma, blocked blood vessel, allergic reaction or tumor.
For mild cases of edema, where treatment at home is suggested, there are a few different solutions.
- Insect bites with mild redness and swelling, such as a mosquito bite or non-venomous spider bite, ice the area.
- A bee sting could be serious depending on whether the person is allergic to bees. Severe swelling or shortness of breath needs immediate medical attention and needs to be treated immediately.
- A broken bone warrants a trip to the emergency room,
- For an injury that has caused swelling, bruising, redness and pain, the best treatment is to do RICE Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.
- If the edema is not caused by a broken bone, moving the affected part will help keep the fluid moving
- Massage the affected area, pushing the fluid towards the heart.
- Try to reduce the amount of salt in your diet as it can make edema worse.
If you have an insect bite or a small bruise, you can treat the minor swelling at home, if the edema is on a much larger scale, such as it affects your whole arm, you have trouble breathing, your head is swollen or it’s painful to walk, it may be time to visit Las Vegas Vein Center and let them help you reduce your swelling and get you back on your feet!