Oedema is the swelling that occurs due to fluid accumulating in the tissues. It may be localised to a certain body part, or be generalised and affect the whole body.
The most common symptoms of fluid retention are puffiness of the fingers, feet, ankles, legs and abdomen. In some cases urine may be passed infrequently or in small quantities
There are a number of causes of fluid retention ranging from simple, easily treated conditions through to serious and life-threatening diseases including kidney, heart and liver diseases, and cancer. It is important to consult your healthcare professional regarding your fluid retention in order to rule out these serious conditions before commencing self-treatment.
Many mild cases are due to poor circulation such as occurs when sitting or standing for a long period, and fluid retention is a common symptom of varicose veins.
Premenstrual syndrome is also a common cause, and is the likely diagnosis if your symptoms occur during the 10-14 days before your period starts, and are relieved afterwards. The weight gain commonly experienced in premenstrual syndrome is largely caused by fluid retention.
Fluid retention can also be a side-effect of certain medications; and the surgical removal of lymph glands can result in localised oedema.
If you suspect your medication is responsible for your fluid retention discuss your concerns with your healthcare professional, who may prescribe a diuretic medication (a medicine which increases the volume of urine produced and thereby relieves the fluid retention).
Vitamin B6 is commonly deficient during pre-menstrual syndrome and may help to relieve fluid retention at this time.
Herbal diuretic medicines which may be of assistance for the relief of fluid retention include dandelion leaf, horsetail and corn silk.
Celery seed and juniper berries are herbal diuretics with special application to arthritic Conditions.
Dietary intake of salt should be restricted if you suffer from fluid retention, as it may cause the body to retain water. At first you may find that food is not as tasty as you are used to, but over a few weeks your taste buds will become accustomed to the reduced saltiness, and you will find yourself noticing different tastes in your food.
If troubled by mild oedema, adopt a healthy eating plan and gentle exercise program along with a herbal diuretic, to help you achieve or maintain your ideal bodyweight and reduce accumulated fluids.
Avoid crossing the legs, standing for long periods of time and wearing tight clothing as these may all restrict circulation.
It may also be helpful to lie with your legs elevated against a wall at the end of the day, or to raise the foot of your bed a few centimetres off the ground. This allows gravity to assist the circulation and fluid to flow back up the legs.
Maintain a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in salt.
Many causes of fluid retention are simple and easy to treat, but others may be very serious.
Always consult your health care professional before commencing self-treatment, and particularly if you are taking medication for high blood pressure or other cardiovascular conditions.