December 12


What to Do If You Have Water Retention and Diabetes

By Gabriela

December 12, 2022

Edema, or water retention, occurs when there’s excess fluid accumulated in different body tissues. This, in turn, causes swelling in the affected areas, usually in the 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 blood circulation which can impede the healing of wounds. Everyday Health

And, water retention can further worsen the healing of wounds. That’s why controlling this condition is of particular importance for those with diabetes. Healthline

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;
  • Discoloration of the 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 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 circulation. If deep vein thrombosis causes your edema, the most affected body parts would be the 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 medications – pioglitazone (Actos), and rosiglitazone (Avandia) which are popular anti-diabetic medications. In some cases, the beginning of 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;
  • Pregnancy.

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 a few times throughout the day;
  • Take diuretics after consulting a doctor to help flush out excess fluid from the body.


  • Gabriela

    Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Diabetes Health Page, Fitness trainer and instructor has dedicated her career to educating and informing people for over 10 years. As one of the most passionate diabetes advocates, Gabi has worked tirelessly to ensure that those people receive the education and support they need to properly manage their diabetes and achieve their health, fitness and weight loss goals.

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