5 Causes for Fluid Retention in the Body

What is Water Retention?

Edema, also frequently referred to as water retention, describes the buildup of excess fluids inside the body tissues. This excessive buildup of water is known to cause pain, redness of skin, swelling and bloating in the legs and arms, etc. Accumulated fluid within the body tissues gets drained out via the lymphatic system. The system consists of a network of tubes which help remove waste materials into the bloodstream. But, when this fluid does not get removed, it causes retention of water within the tissues.


Two types of water retention in the body include localized edema and generalized edema. Localized edema occurs when a swelling appears in a particular area of the body only. The most common body parts affected in this type are the feet and legs. Other areas of the body which tend to experience swellings are the ankles, stomach, hands, etc. On the other hand, when the whole body swells up, it is known as generalized edema.


  • Puffiness
  • Weight gain
  • Night sweats
  • Stiffness in joints
  • Increased pulse rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Swelling on the area
  • The skin retains a dimple when pressed

Factors Responsible:

  • The body needs some amount of salt within the tissues. But, if the salt intake is overly high, it leads to fluid retention inside the tissues.
  • Certain medicines like anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids, some blood pressure medications and hormone replacement drugs also lead to edema.
  • Weakened, dysfunctional kidneys are another factor which causes retention of fluids. Certain problems affect the ability of the kidneys to expel sodium and fluids from the body.
  • Fluid retention can also be a symptom of other medical problems, such as hypothyroidism, congestive heart failure, liver cirrhosis, varicose veins, arthritis, severe allergic reaction, nutritional deficiencies and chronic lung disease.
  • Women could experience this condition while pregnant and prior to menstruation. Elevated estrogen levels cause secretion of aldosterone which stimulates the kidneys to store extra water. Women suffer from edema even when taking oral contraceptives that contain estrogen.


Normally, treatment for mild water retention entails the usage of diuretics. But, serious cases would need medical treatment and the management of underlying causes. Physicians prescribe drugs like Aldactone, a potassium-sparing diuretic, to treat water retention. Aldactone helps prevent the body from absorbing surplus salt and also prevents potassium levels from becoming too low. But, Aldactone is a prescription medication and must be used only when prescribed by the doctor.

Apart from medicinal treatment, physicians also suggest lifestyle changes as well as healthy dietary changes to help manage this condition. Alterations in dietary habits comprise decreasing sodium or salt intake, and also incorporating green vegetables, protein-rich foods and fruits into the diet. Likewise, lifestyle changes should include exercising regularly as this helps in preventing water accumulation in the body.

Edema must not be taken lightly because it may be a sign of other underlying health problems. It is best to seek advice from a healthcare professional for correct diagnosis and appropriate treatment for this condition.

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