Water retention is a term used for excessive build up of fluid in the body tissues. In medical parlance the condition is called edema. Commonly water retention is clinically visible in the form of swelling in feet, ankle, face and abdomen although it can develop on any area of the body.
Most cases of water retention are idiopathic, meaning it exists without any relevant cause. However, there are some other causes such as excessive consumption of salt, premenstrual water retention, inactivity for long period and serious conditions such as kidney and heart failure.
Besides swelling, water retention can result in sudden weight gain, stiffness in joints, increased pulse rate, hypertension, bloated feeling etc.
What Causes Water Retention In The Body?
Water retention is caused by several reasons. Some of them are temporary and correction of underlying cause reduces swelling. Some of them are chronic and persist over a period of time. Most chronic cases of edema are caused due to failure of vital organs.
When circulation in leg vein is affected, you may experience swelling in ankle and feet.
Hormonal changes during menses, pregnancy can cause swelling in legs and other parts of body. More serious disorders related to heart, kidney, and liver can give rise to fluid buildup in depending parts of the body, especially the legs, face and abdomen.
Many times considerable edema occurs due to certain medications, especially medications for hypertension and anti-inflammatory medicines. Low protein level in body, malnutrition, and exposure to heat or extreme cold can also cause swelling and retention of water in the body.
Symptoms Of Water Retention In Body
Edema or water retention may accompany several other symptoms depending on the underlying disorder responsible for it. When present in arms and legs, fluid retention can be bilateral or unilateral. It can be acute or chronic. It can be pitting or non pitting edema.
- Swelling in dependent part of body. In ambulatory patient, edema is observed in feet, ankles, legs. In recumbent patients swelling is observed in lower back, and genital area. Swelling is more marked in evening.
- Due to swelling patient finds difficulty in folding his joints. Joint stiffness is common with excess amount of edema.
- Water retention due to heart failure or lung failure causes breathlessness, cough, and specific breathing sound.
- Puffy face, swollen eyelids and lips, are some of the common features observed due to water retention.
- Abdominal girth increases due to collection of fluid in the peritoneal cavity. It is common in liver, kidney and heart failure.
- Skin loses its elasticity due to swelling. It becomes thick and excess collection of water in lower legs can cause breaks in superficial skin. Patients suffering from elephantiasis often suffer from this condition.
Home Remedies To Reduce Water Retention In Body
The goal is to flush out excess of water from the body and to maintain constant desirable volume of water in the body. Diuretics are beneficial in flushing out water from the body through excess of urination. Besides use of conventional diuretics, there are several home remedies found to be effective.
- One of the basic prerequisite is to reduce intake of salt in the diet when patient is suffering from edema.
- Elevation of edematous limb facilitates absorption of fluid with the help of gravity. Apply elastic bandage around the legs, especially in case if water retention is caused due to defect in venous drainage.
- Dandelion has natural diuretic properties. It is rich in potassium and magnesium and low in sodium. Thus it is useful in maintaining electrolyte balance.
- Epsom salt bath helps in getting rid of water from the limbs. Its effect occurs due to reverse osmosis. Epsom salt bath draws out excess of fluid from the tissues at the same time it soothes the painful muscles.
- Watercress is time tested home remedy for reducing swelling caused due to retention of water in tissues. It is a natural diuretic. Watercress increases production of urine and thus flushes out excess of water buildup in the tissues.
There are several other foods such as cucumber, watermelon, celery, cabbage, onion etc having diuretic properties. Before taking any home remedies for treating water retention you should always consult your doctor, because some foods may interact with other medicines that may be prescribed by the doctor.