Sunday, February 14, 2016

Fluid Retention in the Body : Health Advice

By Port Moresby General Hospital 

Welcome to another health update from the Port Moresby General Hospital this week we are focussing on fluid retention in the body. What causes it? Why is it important to talk to your doctor if you if you are experiencing this symptom?
What is Fluid Retention? 
Fluid retention also known as water retention or oedema refers to an excessive build up of fluid in the body. While common causes of fluid retention are from diets high in sodium, hot weather, certain medications or hormone changes due to a woman’s menstrual cycle, it can be a symptom of a serious underlying health issue such as diseases of the heart, liver and kidney.
Most commonly, fluid retention is evident by the swelling of the hands, feet, legs ankles and abdomen however it can occur in other body parts. There are two categories for fluid retention: generalized oedema (when swelling occurs throughout the body) and localized oedema (when particular parts of the body are affected).
It is important to note that fluid can be retained throughout the day based on your hydration levels, activity levels and the foods you have consumed (you will retain more fluid if you have consumed processed foods as these contain high amounts of sodium which is one of the main causes for retaining fluid). Stick to unprocessed foods when possible and make sure you are drinking enough water for your daily needs. A well-hydrated body is less likely to retain fluid.
What Causes Fluid Retention?
Some of the common causes of fluid retention include:
Gravity: Standing for long periods of time allows fluid to pool in the tissues of the lower leg.
Hot Weather: A common cause of fluid retention. 
Burns: Including sunburn.
Menstrual Cycle: A common cause of fluid retention and is caused by hormonal changes.
Pregnancy: Also due to hormone changes. 
Dietary Deficiency: Such as insufficient protein or vitamin B1 (thiamine) in the diet.
Medications: Such as blood pressure medications, corticosteroids, anti-inflammatory medications, diabetes medications, and the contraceptive pill. Talk to your doctor about this potential side effect. 
Chronic Venous Insufficiency: Weakened valves in the veins of the legs fail to efficiently return blood to the heart which causes fluid to collect in the legs which can potentially cause varicose veins.
Diseases: Of the heart, liver, kidneys and thyroid.
Allergic Reaction: The body tends to swell in response to particular allergens. In some cases, the reaction is severe (anaphylaxis) and requires urgent medical attention. 
Physical Activity: A common complaint from those who are new to exercise. 
Hypertension: High blood pressure can cause fluid retention
Cancer: Especially kidney, liver or ovarian cancers.
Symptoms of Fluid Retention?
Symptoms of fluid retention may vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition which is why it is always important to be evaluated by your doctor. Those who are affected by fluid retention may experience the following symptoms:
- Swelling of affected body parts (Feet, ankles, hands and abdomen are most commonly affected) The affected body parts may ache or feel heavy.
- Joints may feel stiff
- Unexplained weight fluctuations or weight gain.
- When pressed, the skin may hold the indent for a few seconds.
- Feeling that clothes, shoes, rings, or watches are too tight.
Tip: As fluid retention can be symptomatic of serious medical conditions such as heart, kidney or liver disease it is important to discuss this symptom with your doctor to rule out any serious or underlying cause.