Counseling Sheet

Edema and Fluid Retention - 1

Agatha M. Thrash, M.D.
Preventive Medicine

When fluid from the blood accumulates in the tissues of the body, the condition is spoken of as "edema." This fluid retention may be caused by the use of concentrated foods such as salt, oil, sugar, or other high-density food. It may also be caused, on rare occasions, by inadequate quantities of protein over a prolonged period. At other times, fluid retention can be caused by congestion of a part, as from inflammation. High blood pressure can cause fluid retention. Following are some suggestions to reduce edema:

  • Drink large quantities of water as the anti-diuretic hormone from the posterior pituitary will be diluted in the bloodstream by large quantities of water. Water is a safe natural diuretic.
  • To reduce fluid retention in the feet and legs, walking is very good. The milking of the large veins increases blood return to the heart and milks the lymphatics which tends to reduce the tissue fluid.
  • The use of elastic stockings or ace bandages on the swollen extremity may help to reduce fluid retention. Elastic stockings may be worn for years without harmful effects.
  • Walking with swinging of the arms causes fluid to accumulate in the fingers, even to the point of being stiff. This fluid usually dissipates in a matter of an hour or two after ending the walk. Should the fluid last longer than two hours, it may need treatment such as the elevation of the arms for a few minutes and being careful that there are no constricting bands around the hands or arms.
  • Fasting is remarkably effective in reducing swelling. Often, one or two days of fasting will reduce the swelling, or will prevent the swelling of premenstrual tension.
  • The use of salt, oil, sugar, and other concentrated nutrients is often a cause of fluid retention. These food items also tend to make the blood pressure to go up. If these items will be strictly omitted from the diet, it can be almost guaranteed that there will be some reduction from this measure alone in reducing the blood pressure and in reducing fluid retention.
  • Varicose veins are a common cause of swelling of the legs. Individuals who have this affliction should use elastic stockings and get plenty of walking as an exercise. It should be a rule of life to reduce intra-abdominal pressure, which means no constipation, no overweight, and no tight clothing. Varicose veins in the legs are caused by an increase in intra-abdominal pressure, such as from overweight or pregnancy, constipation, or the use of girdles or constricting bands.
  • Loss of sleep is a common offender in producing fluid retention.
  • Tenderness from overuse of muscles can cause edema by the inflammation that develops in sore muscles as a result of too much exercise. Too little exercise sometimes leads to fluid retention. No other treatment is needed except that of vigorous exercise.
  • The premenstrual time is characterized by fluid retention in many women. No treatment than the ones given above is needed. A cup of red raspberry leaf tea may also be helpful.

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Uchee Pines Lifestyle Center
30 Uchee Pines Road #75
Seale, Alabama 36875