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Health Condition

Edema

About This Condition

Abnormal accumulation of fluid beneath the skin is known as edema. This leads to a puffy appearance, often in a limb, most commonly a leg.

There are many causes of edema. In some cases, the underlying problem (for example, congestive heart failure or preeclampsia of pregnancy) must be medically treated in order for the edema to resolve. In other cases (such as chronic venous insufficiency, edema following minor trauma, or lymphedema resulting from damage to lymphatic vessels caused by surgery and other medical treatments), it is possible with both conventional and natural approaches to focus specifically on the edema. Unless edema is clearly due to minor trauma, it should never be treated until the underlying cause has been properly diagnosed by a healthcare professional. The discussion below deals only with situations in which it is safe to focus on the edema itself and not the underlying cause.

Symptoms

People with edema may notice that a ring on their finger feels tighter than in the past, or they might have difficulty in putting on shoes, especially toward the end of the day. They may also notice a puffiness of the face around the eyes, or in the feet, ankles, and legs. When edema is present, pressure on the skin, such as from the elastic band on socks, may leave an indentation that is slow to disappear. Edema of the abdomen, called ascites, may be a sign of serious underlying disease and must be immediately evaluated by a doctor.

Other Therapies

Commonly, treatment consists of managing the underlying condition, which may include inadequate nutrition; liver, heart, and kidney disease; or obstruction of blood or lymph flow. In some cases, a salt-restricted diet may be recommended.

References

1. Micke O, Bruns F, Mucke R, et al. Selenium in the treatment of radiation-associated secondary lymphedema. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2003;56:40-9.

2. Griffith JQ. Clinical application of quercetin: preliminary report. J Am Pharm Assoc 1953;42:68-9.

3. Shanno RL. Rutin: a new drug for the treatment of increased capillary fragility. Am J Med Sci 1946;211:539-43.

4. Mills SY. Out of the Earth: The Essential Book of Herbal Medicine. London: Viking Arkana, 1991, 493-4.

5. Tyler V. Herbs of Choice: The Therapeutic Use of Phytomedicinals. New York: Pharmaceutical Products Press, 1994, 74 [review].

6. Racz-Kotilla E, Racz G, Solomon A. The action of Taraxacum officinale extracts on the body weight and diuresis of laboratory animals. Planta Med 1974;26:212-7.

7. Doan DD, Nguyen NH, Doan HK, et al. Studies on the individual and combined diuretic effects of four Vietnamese traditional herbal remedies (Zea mays, Imperata cylindrica, Plantago major and Orthosiphon stamineus). J Ethnopharmacol 1992;36:225-31.

8. Tyler V. Herbs of Choice: The Therapeutic Use of Phytomedicinals. New York: Pharmaceutical Products Press, 1994, 74 [review].

9. Racz-Kotilla E, Racz G, Solomon A. The action of Taraxacum officinale extracts on the body weight and diuresis of laboratory animals. Planta Med 1974;26:212-7.

10. Doan DD, Nguyen NH, Doan HK, et al. Studies on the individual and combined diuretic effects of four Vietnamese traditional herbal remedies (Zea mays, Imperata cylindrica, Plantago major and Orthosiphon stamineus). J Ethnopharmacol 1992;36:225-31.

11. Tyler V. Herbs of Choice: The Therapeutic Use of Phytomedicinals. New York: Pharmaceutical Products Press, 1994, 74 [review].

12. Racz-Kotilla E, Racz G, Solomon A. The action of Taraxacum officinale extracts on the body weight and diuresis of laboratory animals. Planta Med 1974;26:212-7.

13. Doan DD, Nguyen NH, Doan HK, et al. Studies on the individual and combined diuretic effects of four Vietnamese traditional herbal remedies (Zea mays, Imperata cylindrica, Plantago major and Orthosiphon stamineus). J Ethnopharmacol 1992;36:225-31.

14. Dini D, Bianchini M, Massa T, Fassio T. Treatment of upper limb lymphedema after mastectomy with escine and levo-thyroxine. Minerva Med 1981;72:2319-22 [in Italian].

15. Wilhelm K, Feldmeier C. Thermometric investigations about the efficacy of beta-escin to reduce postoperative edema. Med Klin 1977;72:128-34 [in German].

16. Tyler V. Herbs of Choice: The Therapeutic Use of Phytomedicinals. New York: Pharmaceutical Products Press, 1994, 76-7 [review].

17. Tyler V. Herbs of Choice: The Therapeutic Use of Phytomedicinals. New York: Pharmaceutical Products Press, 1994, 76-7 [review].

18. Griffith JQ. Clinical application of quercetin: preliminary report. J Am Pharm Assoc 1953;42:68-9.

19. Shanno RL. Rutin: a new drug for the treatment of increased capillary fragility. Am J Med Sci 1946;211:539-43.

20. Ponce P, Mello-Gomes E. Idiopathic edema, tubular metabolism of water and sodium. Acta Med Port 1991;4:236-41 [in Portuguese].

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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2018.