What Exactly is Edema?

Edema happens when too much fluid is trapped in body tissues. It can happen in any part of the body but is most common in feet, ankles, legs, arms and hands. There are many causes for edema, and some of these include pregnancy, hormone fluctuations, excessive salt intake, medications and disease. It is important to pinpoint the reason for your edema so you can seek treatment for it.

Edema during Pregnancy

Edema is a common condition during pregnancy, especially after the 20th week. Although it is common for pregnant women to endure swollen ankles and feet, and sometimes the face and neck, it is important to be sure it is not a sign of something more serious.

In pregnancy, edema can be brought on by changes in blood chemistry. In the third trimester, edema can be caused by your uterus putting too much weight on your pelvic veins and vena cava. This can cause blood to pool, and fluid retention below the knees is the outcome.

How to Cope with Swelling

Although it sounds like too simple of a solution, propping your feet up can be very beneficial in fighting edema. Keep your feet above your hips, and let gravity do its work while you rest. Try to avoid standing for long periods of time, and if you must then be sure to switch feet often in order to increase the blood flow. Move as much as possible and try to include a daily walk in your schedule.

Massage is a great way to reduce swelling caused by edema. The best way is to find a massage therapist, as many are trained in the proper techniques to ease common ailments. If you are unable to do so, you can simply have your partner or a friend massage your legs and feet. Have them begin at the feet and work up towards the knees.

Resist crossing your legs as this can promote swelling. Keep your legs side by side instead, as this is an effective way to combat the swelling that can come as a result of constricted blood flow to the legs and feet.

There is disagreement as to whether or not salt intake affects edema in a major way, but eating less salt is a safe way to try to fight swelling. Attempt to avoid other additives found in processed foods as well. Eat a widely varied diet based on whole foods. Drink plenty of water to regularly flush the toxins from your system.

When to See the Doctor

Edema can often be managed on one’s own, even while pregnant, but there are warning signs which can point to something more serious. You should strongly consider seeking medical advice when one leg is swollen more than another, or there is pain involved. This can be a sign of a blood clot, which must be dealt with immediately.

If you have a persistent headache, or changes in your eyesight, this can signal pre-eclampsia which needs to be managed by a doctor. Your heart could be the issue if troubled breathing or chest pains accompany the swelling.

Edema is an inconvenient and uncomfortable condition, and a common side effect of pregnancy. With this info you can determine whether your edema is something you need to see your doctor about, or handle on your own.