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    Edema Overview

    Causes of Edema continued...

    Kidney disease : A kidney condition called nephrotic syndrome can result in severe leg edema and sometimes whole-body edema.

    Pregnancy: Mild leg edema is common during pregnancy. But serious complications of pregnancy like deep vein thrombosis and preeclampsia can also cause edema.

    Cerebral edema ( brain edema ): Head trauma, low blood sodium (called hyponatremia), high altitudes, brain tumors, and a block in fluid drainage (known as hydrocephalus) can cause edema. Headaches, confusion, unconsciousness, and coma can be symptoms of cerebral edema.

    Medications : Many medicines can cause edema, including:

    When they cause swelling, usually it's mild leg edema.

    Symptoms of Edema

    Your symptoms will depend on the amount of edema you have and where you have it.

    Edema in a small area from infection or inflammation (like a mosquito bite) may cause no symptoms at all. On the other hand, a large allergic reaction (such as from a bee sting) may cause edema on your entire arm that can bring tense skin, pain, and limited movement.

    Food allergies may cause tongue or throat edema. This can be life-threatening if it interferes with your breathing.

    Leg edema can make the legs feel heavy. This can affect walking. In edema and heart disease, for example, the legs may easily weigh an extra 5 or 10 pounds each. Severe leg edema can interfere with blood flow, leading to ulcers on the skin.

    Pulmonary edema causes shortness of breath and sometimes low oxygen levels in the blood. Some people with pulmonary edema may have a cough.

    Treatment of Edema

    To treat edema, you often must treat its underlying cause. For example, you might take allergy medications to treat swelling from allergies.

    Edema from a block in fluid drainage can sometimes be treated by getting the drainage flowing again. A blood clot in the leg is treated with blood thinners. They break down the clot and get drainage back to normal. A tumor that blocks blood or lymph can sometimes be shrunk or removed with surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation.

    Leg edema related to congestive heart failure or liver disease can be treated with a diuretic (sometimes called a ''water pill'') like furosemide (Lasix). When you can pee more, fluid from the legs can flow back into the blood. Limiting how much sodium you eat can also help.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Suzanne R. Steinbaum, MD on January 27, 2015
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