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What Causes Fluid Retention In The Legs And Feet?

Fluid retention or water retention in the legs and feet refers to the excessive formation of fluid with the tissues of a human body, circulatory system or in any other cavities.

What Causes Fluid Retention In The Legs And Feet?

What Causes Fluid Retention In The Legs And Feet?

The problem of fluid retention in human beings may take place because of many reasons, which include the following-

Capillaries: Fluids rich in vitamins, nutrients and oxygen consistently pass from capillaries i.e. tiny blood vessels into the surrounding tissues referred to as interstitial fluids. The main role of this fluid is to nourish cells and eventually goes back to capillaries. Water retention may takes place with the change in the pressure within the capillaries. Moreover, the problem of fluid retention may even occur when capillary walls become too much leaky. This further leads to excessive release of liquid within the spaces present in between cells. In case of releasing too much fluid, the more amount will remain within the tissues instead of going back to capillaries leading to swelling of legs and feet because of water/fluid retention.

Kidneys: Kidneys are responsible for the filtration of blood, such as fluids, water and other waste substances and cross within the tiny tubules. From these tubules, human bloodstream may reabsorb almost anything to reuse by our body, while the one that body fails to use excretes in the form of urine. In most of the cases, the kidneys are able to eliminate waste materials produced by human body. However, if the flow of blood to kidneys affects, it may cause problems, including the problem of fluid retention in the ankles, legs and feet. For instance, in case of kidney failure, human body fails to eliminate fluids and other waste materials in a proper manner leading to fluid retention.

Heart: Pumping force of the heart is responsible to maintain normal blood pressure within the blood vessels partly. However, in case of heart failure, individuals witness certain change in the blood pressure, which further results in severe water retention. Here, the retention of water typically results in the swelling of ankles, feet and legs. Even fluid formation may take place in lungs leading to cough for a long term or difficulty in breathing.

Congestive heart failure may eventually lead to breathing problems and excessive amount of stress on one’s heart. Doctors/cardiologists may prescribe for diuretics to their patients. Diuretic promotes the urine formation by patient’s kidney and thereby, helps the body of a patient to shed water.

Lymphatic System: Lymphatic System is responsible for draining the fluid from lymph tissues and re-empties it back within the bloodstream. However, the release fluid in too much amount during the initial place results in overwhelming of the lymphatic system i.e., change in the return the fluid at the usual speed and thereby, cause swelling in various body parts, which include ankles, abdomen, feet and legs.

Pre-Menstrual Water Retention

Pre-menstrual water/fluid retention may cause breast tenderness and bloating problems. This takes place because of hormone imbalances and a few nutritional factors, which include the following-

Malnutrition: Malnutrition or poor diet low in protein leads to low albumin levels, which causes water retention problems during PMS phase.

Sodium Rich Foods: Consumption of foods rich in sodium may result in water retention in feet and legs.

Specific Foods: Insect bites and specific food items may cause the problem of edema in various susceptible individuals.

Thyroid Disorder: People dealing with thyroid gland disorder usually experience retention of water.


Some of the medications may even cause retention of fluid or water, which are-

Estrogen Pills: Estrogen containing drugs or orally consumed contraceptive pills.

Beta Blockers: Beta-blockers medications to deal with irregular heart rhythms.

NSAIDS: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs i.e. medicines with fever reducing and pain reducing effects.


  1. MedicalNewsToday – Water retention: Causes, symptoms, and treatments
  2. Cleveland Clinic – Fluid Retention and PMS
  3. WebMD – Edema and Water Retention
  4. Healthline – Why Do I Have Swollen Feet and Ankles?
  5. Mayo Clinic – Edema

Also Read:

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 24, 2023

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