Fluid Retention – An Underlying Physiological Problem

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Approximately 60% of our body is made up of water. From the minute cells to the vital organs and skeletal structure, our body’s proper functioning depends on water balance. The regulatory mechanisms of our body, such as the heart and kidneys, are responsible for keeping the amount of fluid in the body at a constant level. Therefore, when dehydration and fluid retention occurs they may indicate an underlying physiological problem.

Swelling is the body’s immediate response to any injury—whether it’s an ankle sprain or a burn, or the lack of mobility, even the bloated legs and ankles during pregnancy or before the monthly period, it may have a number of causes. But once the minor swelling is not treated it will lead to further fluid accumulation which may compromise function of the joints and other parts of the body. Therefore as soon as you notice some swelling in one part or another, here are a few tips that will help you bring down fluid retention.

Keep moving

The lack of exercise is a common cause for swelling, especially in the legs. Avoid sitting for long periods at work or even inside the plane. Get up, stretch your extremities and walk around for a few paces every now and then. For those people who have a limited mobility, try flexing the knees and ankles, and wiggling the toes if possible. Using your muscles will help prevent pooling of blood and interstitial fluid. Likewise, minimize crossing your legs as this can restrict the blood flow and aggravate swelling.

Raise it

Raising the extremity above the heart means allowing the fluid to drain down by means of gravity. This is as beneficial as moving the extremity as well.

Get some leg support

Occupations that require standing and sitting for long hours are most likely to develop leg swelling and varicose veins due to the increased pressure of the fluid inside leg blood vessels and capillaries. Prescription support stockings (i.e. anti-embolic stockings) are available with various degrees of compression. There are also over-the-counter support hose as well. But be careful about excessively constricting hose as you’ll end up doing more harm than good.

Watch out for sodium

Where sodium goes, water follows. This principle of human anatomy and physiology tells us that increased sodium intake causes the body to retain fluid. So cut down sodium in the diet, avoid junk food, and minimize dairy products, root crops, and canned goods. Consult your dietician about the parameters of a low sodium diet.

The proper weight

Overweight and obese people have a greater chance of acquiring almost all diseases, so as edema.

Improve your circulation

Both exercise and a massage can help improve your body’s circulation. For a localized minor swelling, try massaging the site gently.

You and your medication

Some drugs like birth control pills can cause also water retention.

Avoid tight garments

Tight jeans and constricting clothing can result into applying pressure on the extremities and restrict blood flow.
But if the swelling affects the whole body, or is a minor swelling that does not subside within a few days, or you suspect deeper injuries, always consult your Doctor.


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