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FCMC Wound Care Center Offers Insight Into Edema Causes and Prevention

Aug 1, 2018

Edema is a condition characterized by swelling caused by an excess of fluids trapped in your body’s tissues. It can manifest at various times, in multiple locations, with differing symptoms. The swelling itself should not be considered a disease, but is typically a sign of a more serious underlying condition.

There are a number of possible underlying causes associated with edema ranging from small to more serious conditions including:

  • Venous Hydrostatic Edema – This accumulation of excess fluid in the spaces between tissue cells results from increased capillary hydrostatic pressure and can lead to edema due to heart failure, venous obstruction, volume expansion or gravitational forces.
  • Damaged or inadequate lymphatic system – The lymphatic system helps to remove excess fluid. When this system is damaged, the lymph vessels and nodes may not drain an area correctly resulting in swelling.
  • Kidney disease – Excess sodium and fluid in the circulatory system may result in edema of the legs.
  • Heart disease – When your heart loses the ability to pump blood effectively, blood can back up in the lower extremities causing edema.
  • Side effect of medication – Certain medications such as estrogens, steroid drugs, high blood pressure medication or certain diabetes medications, can lead to an increased risk of edema.
  • Pregnancy – During pregnancy the body retains more fluid and sodium to support the fetus. Oftentimes this will result in swelling in the feet, ankles and legs.
  • Cirrhosis of the liver – Fluid will often accumulate in the abdominal cavity and legs due to liver damage.
  • Allergic Reaction – Most allergic reactions will result in some degree of edema. When exposed to an allergen, the body will allow the surrounding blood vessels to send fluid into the affected area. This reaction can range from a swollen bug bite to the swelling of the tongue or throat which can impede breathing.

Forrest City Medical Center’s Wound Care Center offers these tips to reduce the onset of edema:

  • Avoid prolonged sitting, standing or crossing of legs
  • Elevate legs above heart several times a day and whenever sitting if possible
  • Wear compression stockings
  • Exercise regularly
  • Adopt healthy nutritional practices: minimize your daily salt intake
  • Stop smoking

Edema may be your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. The quicker you are able to find the underlying cause of edema the quicker your body can begin to heal. The elimination of edema is a dramatic driver in decreasing overall recovery time.

For more information about edema and how it can affect non-healing wounds, contact the Wound Care Center at Forrest City Medical Center, 1601 Newcastle Road in Forrest City, or call 870-261-0080.