Edema, or water retention, occurs when there’s an excess fluid accumulated in different body tissues. This, in turn, causes swelling in the affected areas, usually in feet, legs, ankles, and hands.
Even though everyone should take the proper measures to treat edema, those who have diabetes should take extra precautions. They usually have problems with the blood circulation which can impede the healing of wounds. (1)
And, water retention can further worsen the healing of wounds. That’s why controlling this condition is of particular importance for those with diabetes. (2)
Symptoms of Edema
Swelling in certain parts of the body is the main symptom of edema. Other symptoms include: (3)
- Skin that retains a dimple after pressing it for a few seconds
- Aching limbs
- Increased abdominal size
- Weight gain
- Discolouration of skin
- Stiff joints
- High blood pressure
- Stretched skin or shiny skin
Possible Causes of Edema
Water retention can occur because of different medical conditions, or as a side effect of certain medications. Some of the most common causes of edema are the following: (4)
- Congestive heart failure – if you have this condition, your heart is not able to circulate enough blood. So, your kidneys have to retain sodium in order to help the body keep water and improve the blood volume.
- Deep vein thrombosis – a blood clot in a deep leg vein can damage the valves within the veins which regulate the circulation. If deep vein thrombosis causes your edema, the most affected body parts would be ankles, calf, and thighs.
- Diabetic nephropathy – this and other kidney diseases can cause water retention due to excess sodium and fluid retention.
- Side effects of certain medication – pioglitazone (Actos), and rosiglitazone (Avandia) which are popular antidiabetic medications. In some cases, the beginning of an insulin therapy can also cause mild and temporary edema. Other drugs that might cause edema as a side effect are high blood pressure medications, estrogens, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and steroid drugs
- Thyroid disease
- Liver cirrhosis
How to Treat Edema
Treating water retention means treating the underlying condition that is causing it in the first place. Also, adjusting or replacing the drugs in some cases.
If the cause of your edema is diabetes, you should control your blood glucose by adopting a healthier lifestyle and diet choices, and taking the right medication if necessary.
To discover the reason for your edema consult your doctor who will help you get the right treatment.
Tips to Reduce Edema
- Regular physical activity
- Losing excess pounds
- Low sodium intake, especially if the cause of your edema is kidney disease
- Wearing support stockings
- Avoiding staying or sitting in one position for too long
- Massaging the affected area with motions directed toward the heart
- Keeping your legs (or other affected area) elevated while sleeping, as well as few times throughout the day
- Taking diuretics after consulting a doctor to help flush out excess fluid from the body