Edema is an observable swelling caused by accumulation fluid in body tissues. When parts of the body are affected with edema, they are considered edematous. Edema most commonly occurs in the feet, ankles, legs, and/or hands where it is referred to as peripheral edema. Edema of the foot is sometimes called pedal edema. The swelling is the result of the accumulation of excess fluid under the skin in the spaces within the tissues.

Types of edema

  1. Cerebral edema – Is an accumulation of excess fluid in the brain.
  1. Angioedema – Is a swelling underneath the skin that affects the deeper layers of the skin and often occurs on the face.
  2. Hereditary angioedema – is a rare genetic condition that causes the capillaries to release fluids into surrounding tissue, leading to edema.
  3. Papilledema – is swelling of the optic nerve of the eye as a result of pressure inside the skull and around the brain (intracranial pressure).
  4. Macular edema – is a swelling of the portion of the eye that perceives central, detailed vision (the macula).
  5. Dependent edema – is edema of the legs and lower body, it usually occurs in the legs when a person is standing, and in the buttocks and hands if a person is lying down.
  6. Scrotal lymphedema – is an enlargement of the scrotum due to fluid accumulation around the testes.
  7. Lipedema– is a disorder of the fatty (adipose) tissue that causes swelling of the legs and hips, and can lead to lymphedema

Causes of edema

Factors that can contribute to the formation of edema are:

  1. Increase in hydrostatic pressure.
  2. Reduction in colloidal or oncotic pressure within blood vessels.
  3. Increased tissue colloidal or oncotic pressure.
  4. Increase in blood vessel wall permeability (such as inflammation).
  5. Obstruction of fluid clearance in the lymphatic system.
  6. Changes in the water retaining properties of the tissues themselves. Raised hydrostatic pressure often reflects retention of water and sodium by the kidney.
  1. Being overweight/Obese.
  2. Having a blood clot in the leg.
  3. Having a leg infection.
  4. Availability of veins in the legs that cannot properly pump blood back to the heart.
  5. High salt consumption.
  6. Effect from Sunburn.
  7. Heart failure.
  8. Kidney disease.
  9. Liver problems from cirrhosis.
  10. Pregnancy.
  11. Problems with lymph nodes, especially after mastectomy.
  12. Some medications.
  13. Standing or walking a lot in warm weather.

Symptoms/Signs of edema

  • Swelling or puffiness of the tissue directly under your skin
  • Stretched or shiny skin
  • Skin that retains a dimple after being pressed for several seconds
  • Increased abdominal size


Prevention of edema

  • Reducing the amount of salt (sodium) in your diet.
  • Use of a medication (such as diuretic) to eliminate excess fluid.
  • Using compression stockings and elevating the legs may also be recommended.

Treatment edema

Not all types of edema require treatment. For instance, edema related to pregnancy or menstrual cycles is not usually treated, while peripheral edema and ascites are slowly treated to minimize the side effects of rapid fluid loss (such as low blood pressure).

Treatment of edema may include the following:


  • Reduction of salt (sodium) in your dietcan help to reduce edema, since sodium usually found in table salt and processed food, can worsen edema.
  • Diuretics are a type of medication that causes the kidneys to excrete more water and sodium, which can reduce edema.

We advise you to see your physician before taking any medication, as diuretics must be used with care because removing too much fluid too quickly can lower the blood pressure, cause lightheadedness or fainting, and impair kidney function

Article By eDokita Team


  1. Medicine Net, Overview, types of Edema. 2016.
  2. Wikipedia, factors that contribute to formation of Edema. 2016
  3. Mayo Clinic, Symptoms of Edema. 2014
  4. Up to Date, Treatment of Edema. 2016

Medline Plus, Foot, Leg and Ankle Swelling causes of Edema.

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