Edema - Causes

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What causes pitting edema?

Edema is caused by either systemic diseases, that is, diseases that affect the various organ systems of the body, or by local conditions involving just the affected extremities. The most common systemic diseases associated with edema involve the heart, liver, and kidneys. In these diseases, edema occurs primarily because of the body's retention of too much salt (sodium chloride). The excess salt causes the body to retain water. This water then leaks into the interstitial tissue spaces, where it appears as edema.

The most common local conditions that cause edema are varicose veins and thrombophlebitis (inflammation of the veins) of the deep veins of the legs. These conditions can cause inadequate pumping of the blood by the veins (venous insufficiency). The resulting increased back-pressure in the veins forces fluid stay in the extremities (especially the ankles and feet). The excess fluid then leaks into the interstitial tissue spaces, causing edema.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: friend of God, 45-54 Female (Caregiver) Published: February 07

My friend had neuropathy in her feet and then started getting edema in her feet and ankles. The doctor did nothing. Recently, about 3 weeks ago, the edema travelled up into her torso and her belly was much extended and she couldn't bend her legs to do physical therapy anymore. Finally the doctor did a scan and called her to go to the emergency room immediately. Once there, she was put on diuretics and had 5 liters of water removed from her abdomen, a mere drop in the bucket. Within the week they have told her she won't recover and needs to go to hospice. She's only 53 and a couple of years ago she would be able to golf 27 holes a day. I don't understand why her doctors couldn't see she had a weak heart, or else the edema caused her to have a weak heart, don't know which, but it's heartbreaking.

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Comment from: Rhettjd, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: May 13

My edema is caused by grains. Allergic reaction to grains causes my legs to swell and hold water. If I don't eat grains then it goes away, because I don't have hypertension, diabetes, or any of the other symptoms that are mentioned.

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