What is Edema?

21:54 - 4 May , 2021


It refers to an inflammation caused by fluid retention that accumulates in the body tissues. It can appear in any area, although its appearance is more frequent in the hands, arms, legs, ankles, and feet. Women have a greater tendency to develop edema than men, mainly due to a hormonal predisposition, although it can also be due to the consumption of drugs, as a result of pregnancy, or conditions such as kidney, liver, or heart failure.

It is usually treated with diuretics, which are medications to remove fluid from the body through the urine, in addition to following a low-sodium diet; but when edema is a symptom of an underlying pathology, it should be treated along with it.

Edema is divided by its extent and location.

By its extent:

  • Focused.
  • General.

By its location:

  • Ascites.
  • Cardiogenic.
  • Pericardial.
  • Hydrocephalic.
  • Hydrothorax.
  • Lymphedema.
  • Cutaneous.
  • Pulmonary.
  • Periorbital.


The main reasons for edema are:

  • High sodium diet.
  • Damage to the lymphatic system.
  • Protein deficiency.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Kidney ailments.
  • Sedentary lifestyle.
  • Certain drugs.
  • Heart failure.
  • Venous insufficiency.
  • Liver problems

Signs and symptoms Edema

  • Abdominal swelling.
  • Fovea (when pressing the skin, the sinking persists minutes after removing the fingers).
  • Cold or heat sensation in the affected area.
  • Painful swelling in the area.
  • Stretching of the skin with a shiny appearance that generates itching and burning.
  • Heavy limbs.

In case of pulmonary edema, shortness of breath and severe chest pain may occur, which is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment.

Potential risks:

An edema that is not treated in time can cause:

  • Abundant scar tissue.
  • Trouble walking.
  • Increased inflammation and pain. 
  • Skin tightening with burning, redness, and itching. 
  • Possible infections. 
  • Circulatory numbness due to atrophy of veins and arteries.
  • Muscle and joint stiffness. 
  • Skin ulcers

Diagnosis and treatment Edema

After analyzing your symptoms, medical history, and performing a physical examination, your doctor will order a series of tests to corroborate the diagnosis and find out the causes of the edema, including urine and blood tests, X-rays, ultrasounds, and MRIs.

The treatment to be followed will be established according to the direct cause of the edema, but mostly you will be prescribed diuretics combined with some other drugs, depending on your particular case.

In ABC Medical Center’s Internal Medicine Department, we offer health care services with the highest quality and safety, from the prevention, diagnosis, timely treatment, and monitoring of infectious, respiratory, endocrinological, dermatological, rheumatic, nephrological, gastrointestinal, and hematological pathologies of both chronic-degenerative diseases and acute conditions, through a comprehensive and multidisciplinary model.


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