Definitions: what is water retention?
Water retention, also known as oedema in medical terms, is the swelling of tissue due to a build-up of fluidsfrom the blood vessels.
The human body is made up of about 65% water, which makes it essential for bodily functions. The body must constantly maintain a water balance between the ingested fluids, in drinks or food, and those released by urine or perspiration. This balance can be disturbed as a result of a malfunction of the blood circulation. The body can no longer correctly remove the surplus and ends up storing more water than necessary. Therefore, this causes a dilation of the vessels and a leakage of liquid towards the surrounding interstitial tissues.
Symptoms of water retention
Water retention is most commonly found in the lower level of the body, for the simple reason of gravity, which then causes a blistering on the legs or feet. Shoes can feel smaller, and so can trousers, however, oedema can also affect other parts of the body such as the belly, arms or the face.
Water retention can cause a sudden change in weight, which can fluctuate within a range of several kilos in just 24 hours.
Causes of water retention
Water retention can have many different causes and many pathologies or conditions can also be the origin:
- Phlebitis (vein thrombosis): This is an obstruction of the vein by a blood clot and the increase of pressure this causes, is what can cause oedema.
- Liver cirrhosis: the liver is the blood filter system. Therefore, a malfunction of this system can cause a dilation of the blood vessels.
- Hyperthyroid: in case of hyperthyroid, the body works in slow motion. The heart has trouble pumping blood and circulation is more difficult, causing a dilation of the vessels.
- A chronic pulmonary disease
But water retention can also be explained by other non-pathological factors. During pregnancy, the stomach can exert strong pressure on the venous system, which then causes a bad blood circulation. Similarly, hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle can cause oedema, most commonly in the breasts or abdomen.
Furthermore, extreme heat, prolonged and frequent upright position, a diet that’s too rich in salt or some medication are other possible causes.
Treatment and remedies to cure water retention
A treatment for water retention first aims to treat the causes of the swelling. Nevertheless, there are various cures and rules to respect to take care of the symptoms.
- Adjusting your nutrition: it is advised to eat less salt, because salt retains water in the body. Similarly, foods that contain a lot of water are also to be avoided, such as soups, coffee and some green vegetables.
- Drink less in order to avoid build-ups
- Avoid hot areas
- Keep legs raised whilst resting: This allows the blood circulation to improve
- Using compression hosiery: they also help the blood to circulate better.