What is it?
Edema is the medical term for swelling caused by fluid trapped in your body’s tissues.
Edema happens most often in your feet, ankles and legs, but can affect other parts of your body, such as your face, hands and abdomen. When this condition is widespread throughout the body, it is called anasarca.
The disorder can be transient or chronic. Chronic edema can be a sign of more serious diseases.
Edema can affect anyone, especially people who are pregnant and adults age 65 and older.
The underlying causes of edema can be different:
- Consumption of high-salt foods;
- High or low blood pressure;
- Heart, kidney, thyroid or liver disorders;
- Food allergies or intolerances;
- Lymphatic system dysfunction;
- Varicose veins;
- Hormonal changes during pregnancy;
- Use of cortisone drugs;
- Sitting for long periods.
The main and characteristic symptom of edema is swelling, which is more frequent in the feet and legs.
However, other symptoms can be:
- Fatigue and exhaustion;
- In the most severe cases, edema can lead to elephantiasis, the enlargement and hardening of limbs or body parts due to tissue swelling.
Edema can be classified into several classes:
- Pitting edema is a specific type of edema that is associated with pitting or indentation in the affected areas.
- If the swelling is caused by a hormonal dysfunction in the thyroid gland, it is called myxedema.
- If the swelling is associated with bluish-purple color, it is called hematoma.
- If the swelling is associated redness and heat, we speak of infectious edema.
- If the swelling affects the eyelids, eyes, lips, tongue, it is called angioedema.
- If the accumulation of fluid in the tissues is due to excessive weight, it is an edema caused by metabolic syndrome.
In order to understand what might be causing your edema, your doctor will first perform a physical exam and ask you questions about your medical history. Depending on the individual case, one of the following tests shall be carried out:
- Urine test;
- Hormonal and thyroid tests;
- Blood test;
- CT Scan;
- Magnetic resonance.
In case of temporary edemas, the patient can follow a healthy lifestyle, a balanced diet, carry out physical activity and take specific depuratives.
In the most severe cases, the treatment shall include:
- Bandages on swollen affected areas, for the reabsorption of excess liquids;
- Sleeping or resting with the legs or feet slightly elevated
- Wear stretching and loose clothing;
- Perform lymphatic drainage massage;
- Eliminate salt and alcohol from the diet.
There are many excellent natural remedies to treat edema:
- Green tea stimulates the metabolism and has draining properties;
- Birch is rich in potassium. Increasing the potassium / sodium ratio, it favours diuresis;
- Centella is excellent for swollen legs and feet, with a detoxifying and draining action;
- The pineapple stem has bromelain, an enzyme capable of draining excess fluids;
- Dandelion helps the liver in the purification and elimination of excess fluids;
- The goldenrod has a purifying and antiseptic action for the urinary tract;
- Horsetail increases diuresis and therefore detoxification.
A diet to help maintain normal fluid balance is based on the following guidelines:
- Reduce the consumption of milk and derivatives, unrefined bread and pasta, simple sugars, as they release toxins that clog the lymphatic vessels;
- Eliminate salt and alcoholic beverages;
- Give preference to the consumption of fish and white meat;
- Avoid salami and red meat. They can alter the balance of bacteria in the gut, slowing your metabolism along the way;
- Drinking at least 2 liters of water per day.
Prefer natural diuretic foods such as zucchini, green beans, asparagus, beets, green beans, green leafy vegetables, pineapple, squash, fennel, celery, lettuce, onion, cucumber and garlic.