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Kingwood Kidney Associates

Board Certified Internal Medicine & Nephrology located in Humble, TX

Edema is a condition where your legs, ankles, and feet swell up because the tissues are retaining fluid. If you have edema, Sowmya Puthalapattu, MD, and Chinonye Ogbonnaya-Odor, MD, at Kingwood Kidney Associates can provide effective treatments. To find out what’s causing the problem and make sure it’s not a sign of a serious underlying condition, call the office in Humble, Texas, or use the online booking tool.

Edema Q & A

What is edema?

Edema is swelling that typically develops in your legs, feet, and ankles, although it can affect any part of your body. The swelling is a result of a buildup of fluid in your tissues. 

As well as swelling or puffiness in the flesh under your skin, you might also see the skin looking stretched or shiny. If you press on the swollen area for a few seconds, the skin stays dimpled when you stop.

What causes edema?

The fluid that causes edema comes from the capillaries. These tiny blood vessels sometimes leak fluid that gets trapped in the tissues, causing swelling.

Milder cases of edema could be due to:

  • Sitting in one position for too long
  • Eating too much salty food
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Being pregnant

Several medications can cause edema as well, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), steroids, estrogen hormone replacement therapy, medicines for high blood pressure, and diabetic medications called thiazolidinediones.

Sometimes edema is a symptom of a more serious underlying condition, such as:

  • Congestive heart failure
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Kidney disease
  • Nephrotic syndrome (kidney damage)
  • Lymphatic system damage
  • Extreme protein deficiency

A frequent cause of edema is chronic venous insufficiency, a condition in which the valves in your veins that keep blood flowing the right way get damaged or weakened. This means the blood can pool in your veins, leading to swelling.

Edema typically affects both legs and doesn’t cause calf pain. Sudden swelling in one leg and pain in your calf are signs of possible deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which refers to a blood clot in a vein that requires immediate medical attention.

How is edema treated?

Mild edema that isn’t related to any underlying health problem should go away on its own, and you can encourage this by raising your legs whenever possible, getting more exercise, losing weight, and reducing your salt intake.

Your provider at Kingwood Kidney Associates can advise you on making lifestyle changes and other helpful measures such as massaging your legs and wearing compression stockings that prevent fluid buildup.

If you have ankle or foot swelling due to venous reflux or lymphatic system dysfunction, you might need to undergo a minimally invasive vein treatment such as radiofrequency (RF) ablation or ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy.

Find out what’s causing your edema by calling Kingwood Kidney Associates today, or book an appointment using the online tool.