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What Is Fluid Retention In The Body & How is it Treated?

What Is Fluid Retention In The Body?

Fluid regularly leaks within the tissues of a human body from the blood. Lymphatic system consisting of a network of different tubes, throughout the entire body that drains the lymph or fluid from tissues and empties back within the bloodstream. Fluid retention or edema takes place when the fluid fails to remove from tissues.

What Is Fluid Retention In The Body?

Categories of Fluid Retention

Fluid retention in humans may take place in either of the two different categories, which include generalized edema or fluid retention i.e. the situation when swelling takes place in the entire body and secondly in localized edema or fluid retention, that affects only particular parts of a patient’s body.

If you face any of the two health conditions, you should essentially take an appointment with your doctor instead of going for self-treatment, as fluid retention constitutes a symptom of various severe medical conditions, such as liver, kidney or heart problems.

What are the Symptoms of Fluid Retention in the Body

Fluid retention may involve the following major symptoms-

Swelling: Swelling in the affected parts of a human body, which include hands, ankles, feet and legs.

Pain: Ache in the specific parts of the patient’s body.

Stiffness: Stiffness in muscular and bone joints.

Weight Gain: Rapid weight gain for a period of few days or few weeks.

Weight Changes: Unexplained fluctuations in the body weight.

Pitting Edema: Pitting edema i.e., the condition when skin of any patient when pressed, hold the indent for some seconds.

Non-Pitting Edema: Non-pitting fluid retention when skin fails to hold any indent while pressed.

Causes of Fluid Retention or Edema Causes

Both generalized and partial edema/fluid retention problems may take place because of following reasons-

Gravity i.e., standing or sitting for a long time, as it allows the fluid to pool within the tissues of one’s leg.

Hot weather, as our body tends to become relatively less efficient in the removal of fluid from the tissues during months of summer season.

Burns and sunburn, when one’s skin retains the body fluid and swells in response to various burn injuries.

Premenstrual syndrome i.e., one or two weeks before menstruation cycle in women.

Deficiency of diet and malnutrition leads to swelling of body because of fluid retention.

Intake of a few drugs, such as corticosteroids and NSAIDs i.e. Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs

Diagnosis for Fluid Retention in the Body

Doctors have to identify the underlying cause associated with fluid retention or edema in patients before they start with the actual treatment. Thus, diagnostic tests in this case may include the following-

Physical Examination

Medical history of patients is analyzed. Detailed questioning about the retention of fluid, like the day or time when it has started, any factors responsible for making the swelling problem worse.

  • Question about whether the problem is an intermittent or a constant one.
  • Urine and blood tests.
  • Kidney function tests.
  • X-ray of chest.
  • Tests related to functions performed by the heart, such as ECG i.e. electrocardiogram.

How is Fluid Retention in the Body Treated?

Depending on the exact cause of the problem, doctors may recommend any of the following treatments to their patients-

Prescribe Water Pills: Diuretics or water pills are prescribed by the doctor initially.

Special Diet Plan: Diet plan consisting of relatively low amount of sodium or salt.

Treating Underlying Conditions: Treatment for any underlying medical condition, such as thyroxine or hormone replacement if a patient suffers from hypothyroidism problem.

Lifestyle Changes: Changes in the lifestyle of a patient in response to specific medical conditions, which include strictly avoiding alcoholic drinks and cigarette smoking in case fluid retention takes place because of kidneys or liver problems.

Dosage Modifications: Changes in the dosage or medication, if swelling/ fluid retention takes place because of specific drugs, like for instance NSAIDs.

  • Adjustments in the daily diet in case fluid retention take place because of malnutrition.
  • Ongoing medical supervision.
  • Aids associated with providing support to stockings.


  1. Mayo Clinic – Edema
  2. WebMD – Edema and Water Retention
  3. MedicalNewsToday – What to know about edema
  4. Cleveland Clinic – Edema
  5. Healthline – Understanding 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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