Edema definition and facts
- Edema is a swelling, usually of the legs, feet, and/or hands 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, venous insufficiency, 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 (idiopathic edema) 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, compression stockings, elevation of the extremity, and often using diuretics (medicines that induce urination).