Edema, also formerly called dropsy is an accumulation of fluids in body tissues. It most commonly occurs in the feet and ankles. However many part of the body may develop edema. It is defined as an observable swelling from fluid accumulation in body tissues.
There are two types of edema – pitting and non-pitting. In pitting enema marks are left if the swollen area of skin is pressed. In non-pitting edema, no marks are left if the skin is pressed upon.
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 occurs primarily in women.
Symptoms and Causes
The bloating and swelling of edema can cause muscular aches and pains. The main symptom is the bloating of tissues in the area affected. If it is the pitting form of edema lines and indentations may be left on the skin by clothing such as elastic socks or by touching it.
The swelling caused by edema is the result of the accumulation of excess fluid under the skin. These places under the skin are known as interstitial spaces. Most of the body’s fluids are normally stored in two spaces; the blood vessels and these spaces. Excess fluid can accumulate in either one or both of these compartments as the result of various diseases.
The body acts like this usually do to salt retention, which causes the body to hold water.
The body’s organs also have interstitial spaces. An accumulation of fluid in the interstitial air spaces occurs in the heart the result can be heart failure. This is called pulmonary edema.
Edema can occur as the result of pregnancy or hormonal changes. It can also be triggered by the commencement of the menstrual cycle.
Pitting edema is caused by kidney, bladder, heart or liver problems. The swelling is the result of the accumulation of excess fluid under the skin in the spaces within the tissues that are outside of the blood vessels. Sometimes diabetes or other chronic diseases cause this syndrome.
Non-pitting edema is specifically caused lymphatic circulation problems or hyperthyroidism.
The most common local conditions that cause edema are varicose veins and thrombophlebitis of the deep veins of the legs. These conditions can cause inadequate pumping of the blood by the veins and force fluid to leak into the interstitial tissue spaces and cause swelling.
Care and Treatment of Edema
Patients experiencing edema may need to either be placed on a diet limited in salt or given diuretic medications. There are also many natural diuretics, in the form of teas, that can be prescribed by a naturopath in order to treat your particular form of edema. Examples of urine producing teas include green tea, black tea, nettle tea, chickweed tea and horsetail tea. A nutritionist can help the edemic individual adopt a diet that is more alkaline and less likely to produce fluid in the tissues. Acupuncture is also helpful in treating cases of edema.
At home on your own, there is no real treatment for non-pitting edema although elevation of the legs may help reduce the swelling.
People with pitting edema is treated with diuretics and medications or surgery but seeing a naturopath that treats the underlying cause of the edema in the first place might be the way to go, especially if the unwanted bloating has not been around that long.
For more information or to book a consultation managing edema with acupuncture, diet and weight loss programs or any health issue you may be experiencing, visit the Pinewood Natural Health Clinic website that has a list of full services and products at www.pinewood.ca or call our Toronto Office at (416)-656- 8100. We also have an office in Pickering, Ontario at (905)-427-0057. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be happy to answer any question that you have about our holistic health services.