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: cody4175, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: February 23

I wish I knew what was causing my edema. I have flank and slight chest pain I have pitting edema on both lower legs. If I work out my chest pain doesn't get any worse, and I don't get winded. I have been going through this for 1 1/2 years. I have had chest x-rays, abdominal CT ultrasound, HIDA scan, colonoscopy, and endoscopy. All are negative. Besides a slight anemia all blood tests normal including all kidney, liver and thyroid tests. Very frustrating.

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Comment from: Maggie, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: February 26

I have had edema since I was 18, my mother also suffered with this. I eat a very 'natural' diet, if I eat grains, particularly rice, my hands, feet and face swell within 20 minutes. The next morning my ankles are tight and I usually have put on 3 lb. or so. I keep off any processed foods including hams and deli goods, too much salt and preservative. I have no heart problems, and take Aldactone daily for over 30 years, if I don't the swelling moves up my legs and is painful.

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