What Causes Water Retention / Swelling / Edema

There’re many conditions and problems which lead to water retention from hormonal, physic, diseases to body disorders. Here is a list of what causes water retention / swelling / edema.

1. Arthritis
Arthritis often causes pain and swelling in the affected joint. It can affect any joints in our body from hip, heel, spine, shoulder, knee to our big toe. The swelling is usually localized in the affected area only.

2. Chronic kidney disease, kidney failure and glomerular disease
These diseases cause the kidneys to lose its normal functions. When this occurs, the kidneys can not efficiently excrete salt and water out of the body. Our body will retain salt and water instead of excrete it thus fluid will be accumulated in the body tissues. The fluid accumulation will lead to generalized swelling as well as abdominal, ankle, feet and leg swelling.

3. Chronic Lung Diseases
Chronic lung disease is a general term of persistent lung disorders that impair the function of the lungs. Severe chronic lung diseases will cause water retention in body include fluid retention in lungs (pulmonary edema), ascites (abdominal fluid retention), neck, face, ankle and feet swelling. Chronic lung diseases that cause water retention include Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), Smoke inhalation injury, Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), Lung Cancer, Mesothelioma.

4. Cirrhosis of the liver
This is a condition where the liver is permanently scarred and damaged. The scars will obstruct the blood flow from the digestive organ to the liver causing it to back up and leak out to the body tissues. The leakage will lead to abdominal fluid retention. Cirrhosis of the liver also cause low protein albumin synthesis by the liver and result in legs and abdominal fluid retention.

5. Congestive heart failure, cardiomyopathy disease and heart valve disease
These heart diseases are another causes of water retention. Congestive heart failure occurs when the heart fails to pump enough volume of blood to the circulation. When this happens, the blood flow to the heart will back up and leak into the lung and veins. Moreover, the kidneys will retain salt and water because of the decreased volume of blood flow. This will cause the accumulation of fluid in the bodily tissues. Both cardiomyopathy and heart valve disease are a variety of heart disease and lead to heart failure.

6. Environmental
Our body will become less efficient in removing fluid during high temperatures or low atmospheric pressure.

7. Excess sodium intake
Excess sodium intake leads to high blood pressure and water retention especially in people who are more susceptible to sodium. Water retention mostly occurs in the lower extremities such as swelling in the ankles and feet.

8. Eyelid disorders
Certain eyelid disorders such as chalazion (enlargement of oil-producing gland in the eyelid), eyelid edema may cause swelling in the eyelid.

9. Gravity
Standing or sitting for a prolonged period will cause fluid retention in legs (edema).

10. Hemophilia

11. Lymphedema

12. Menopause
Some women might experience water retention symptoms during and after their menopausal stage, especially if they’re taking estrogen replacement hormones.

13. Metastasis of prostate cancer
Swelling, pain and abdominal fluid accumulation because of injury in the abdomen. The injury in the abdomen is caused by metastasis of prostate cancer.

14. Nutritional Deficiencies

15. Pregnancy
Water retention during pregnancy occurs when the developing uterus put pressure on the vena cava resulting in the accumulation of fluid in the lower extremities. The fluid accumulation then leak into the surrounding tissues and cause swelling in the ankles and feet. Hormone fluctuation and increase volume of blood flood also responsible for water retention during pregnancy. The most affected areas of swelling during pregnancy are in the lower extremities (ankles and feet).

16. Preeclampsia
Preeclampsia is characterized by hypertension arises and a significant amount of protein in urine during pregnancy. This is one of the causes of water retention in pregnant women. It will lead to abnormal and excessive swelling of hands and feet. Sudden swelling in ankles and face might occur too.

17. Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Some women might experience premenstrual bloating in the week or so before their menstruation. The bloating occurs due to the production of certain hormones such as aldosterone causing the kidneys to retain salt and water. The water retention may cause some degree of swelling in the breasts, abdomen and legs.

18. Side effects of certain medication

19. Thyroid disease
Any malfunction or disease afflicting the pituitary gland, hypothalamus or the thyroid gland might cause a swollen thyroid gland. The swelling may occur in the face, hands, ankles, feet and legs too.

20. Venous Insufficiency
Venous insufficiency is a disturbance of the blood flow from the leg veins because of the damage of the veins itself or the valves. This disorder is one of the causes of water retention in legs (ankle, leg and feet swelling). Water retention occurs because the blood towards the heart backup into the leg causing fluid to leak into the surrounding tissues.

21. Hernia

22. Lyme disease
Lyme disease is a bacterial infectious disease that is often acquired from tick bites. Several signs and symptoms of Lyme disease include bull's eye rash, swollen eye tissue, swollen lymph nodes in adults and children, tingling in face, joint pain or swelling, frequent urination and nausea.

23. Ascites in advanced gastric cancer