What Are the Different Types of Cures for Edema?

A. Pasbjerg

Edema, a condition that occurs when excess fluid builds up in the body's tissues, may be the result of a variety of issues, and the method of treatment often depends on what is causing it. In some cases, the cures for edema are simply the cures for the underlying conditions of which it is a symptom. When edema is caused by an irreversible problem like kidney failure or liver cirrhosis, it is typically not possible to completely cure it, and it is usually necessary to just manage the symptom. This is typically accomplished through the use of diuretics. Lifestyle changes such as reducing sodium intake and wearing support stockings can also help decrease the problem.

The foot of a person with edema.
The foot of a person with edema.

True cures for edema are typically those that effectively address the problems that led to fluid retention. Though many conditions that cause edema are irreversible, some types such as thyroid conditions, asthma, or early heart disease may be treated and managed successfully, which in turn controls edema. The body may tend to retain fluid when a person takes certain medications, so discontinuing their use or switching to another drug may correct the problem. People sometimes get edema as a result of environmental factors, like high heat or altitude, so changing physical location or conditions may help. Edema can also be the result of hormone fluctuations prior to menstruation or of pregnancy, conditions that resolve themselves over time.

Pulmonary edema refers to a medical condition characterized by the build up of fluid around the lungs.
Pulmonary edema refers to a medical condition characterized by the build up of fluid around the lungs.

Diuretics are one of the most common cures for edema in cases where the underlying problem is incurable, for example in patients with pulmonary fibrosis or heart failure. These drugs help decrease fluid levels in the body by forcing diuresis, or an increase in urine production by the kidneys. Lowering the overall amount of fluid in the body makes it less likely for it to seep from the blood vessels into the surrounding tissues.

Other typically recommended cures for edema are lifestyle changes. Reducing salt in one's diet can significantly reduce the amount of fluid retained by the body. Those who are physically inactive are encouraged to get up and move around frequently during the day and to get regular exercise. Weight loss may help heavier patients reduce edema. For those who primarily suffer from fluid retention in the legs and feet, wearing support stockings and keeping the feet elevated when possible can both help.

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