Fluid retention in the tissues of the body can cause abnormal swelling known as edema. Edema can affect various areas of the body and is actually considered as symptom not a disease. Edema can result from lifestyle, injury or may be related to an illness. Appropriate treatment begins with identifying the cause of the edema as most cases of edema are minor but others can be very serious, even life threatening and should be reported to your physician. For the purposes of this article we will discuss edema in the lower extremities.
Causes of Edema
There are multiple causes of edema. Identifying the cause is an important aspect of not only treatment but of prevention and getting early treatment for medical conditions which may be the cause of this symptom.
Edema in the lower extremities is common in many people who are on their feet a lot such as nurses, cashiers, hair dressers and others. This occurs when the veins in the lower extremities are not able to keep up with the demands of returning blood to the heart. The arteries are pumping blood faster to the lower extremities than the veins can return it. This can be caused by restrictive clothing, weak leg muscles, varicose veins, or diseased vessels in the lower legs. If your job requires a lot of standing or walking, tries to plan frequent rest periods and elevate your legs while resting. It is optimal that your legs are higher than your heart, but this may not be possible in the work environment.
Edema in the lower extremities can be the result of a blood clot or a tumor which obstructs the flow of blood through the vessel. These can threaten your limbs and should be reported to your physician. Some leg edema can be related to other conditions such as heart disease or congestive heart failure, liver or kidney disease. Any edema lasting more than a few days should be reported to your physician.
Symptoms of Edema
You may notice your shoes are tighter on your feet, or that your ankles or calves are a little larger than normal. You can press your finger tips into the tissue and remove them and it leaves an indentation, this is known as pitting edema. Edema is identified by swelling in various areas of the body; sometimes removing the cause can alleviate the symptoms.
Treatment of Edema
Treating edema means identifying the cause. Once the cause is identified treatment can begin and be effective. Treatment can be as simple as resting and elevating extremities or as complicated as removal or a clot. Depending on if the edema is the result of another illness or condition you may require treatment for that condition to be able to relieve the symptom of edema. It is very important that any edema lasting more than a day or two and not relieved with rest and elevation be evaluated by a doctor to help determine possible underlying causes.