font size


Edema

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

Edema facts

  • Edema is a swelling, usually of the legs, due to the accumulation of excessive fluid in the tissues.
  • The edema that occurs in diseases of the heart, liver, and kidneys is mainly caused by salt retention, which holds the excess fluid in the body.
  • In certain liver and kidney diseases, low levels of albumin in the blood can contribute to fluid retention.
  • Heart failure, cirrhosis of the liver, and a kidney disease called nephrotic syndrome are the most common systemic diseases that cause edema.
  • Excess fluid that accumulates in the lungs is called pulmonary edema.
  • Excess fluid that accumulates in the abdominal cavity is called ascites.
  • Edema of unknown cause occurs primarily in women.
  • Varicose veins or thrombophlebitis (a blood clot in an inflamed vein) of the deep veins in the legs causes edema that is localized to the legs.
  • Therapy for edema consists of treating the underlying conditions, restricting salt intake, and often using diuretics (medicines to induce urination).

What is edema?

Edema is observable swelling from fluid accumulation in body tissues. Edema most commonly occurs in the feet and legs, where it is referred to as peripheral edema. The swelling is the result of the accumulation of excess fluid under the skin in the spaces within the tissues. All tissues of the body are made up of cells and connective tissues that hold the cells together. This connective tissue around the cells and blood vessels is known as the interstitium. Most of the body's fluids that are found outside of the cells are normally stored in two spaces; the blood vessels (as the "liquid" or serum portion of your blood) and the interstitial spaces (not within the cells). In various diseases, excess fluid can accumulate in either one or both of these compartments.

The body's organs have interstitial spaces where fluid can accumulate. An accumulation of fluid in the interstitial air spaces (alveoli) in the lungs occurs in a disorder called pulmonary edema. In addition, excess fluid sometimes collects in what is called the third space, which includes cavities in the abdomen (abdominal or peritoneal cavity - called "ascites") or in the chest (lung or pleural cavity - called "pleural effusion"). Anasarca refers to the severe, widespread accumulation of fluid in the all of the tissues and cavities of the body at the same time.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/6/2014

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Edema - Effective Treatments Question: What kinds of treatments have been effective for edema?
Edema - Causes Question: What caused your case of edema?
Edema - Signs and Symptoms Question: In addition to swelling, what were your signs and symptoms associated with edema?
Edema - Salt Intake Question: If you've had edema, in what ways do you adjust your salt intake?
Edema - Diuretics Question: Do you take diurectics to control edema? Please discuss your experience.
Edema - Edema Experience Question: Please describe your experience with edema.
Source: MedicineNet.com
http://www.medicinenet.com/edema/article.htm

Women's Health

Find out what women really need.

Edema Related Articles
advertisement
advertisement
Use Pill Finder Find it Now See Interactions

Pill Identifier on RxList

  • quick, easy,
    pill identification

Find a Local Pharmacy

  • including 24 hour, pharmacies

Interaction Checker

  • Check potential drug interactions
Search the Medical Dictionary for Health Definitions & Medical Abbreviations