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Recognizing the Signs of Edema

Recognizing the Signs of Edema

Edema is the medical term for swelling that happens when fluid gets trapped in your tissues, in the space around your blood vessels and cells (known as the interstitial space). While edema can happen in pretty much any part of your body, its symptoms tend to be most noticeable in the legs, feet, ankles, and hands.

Getting to the root cause of edema is the first step in treating it successfully. Dr. Allison Burkett uses advanced diagnostic techniques to understand the cause of edema in patients at Middle Georgia Vascular Surgery Center, creating custom treatment plans to relieve symptoms and improve health.

Why edema happens

Edema’s swelling and puffiness usually happen in the skin, but sometimes, fluid collects around muscles or organs. 

A number of issues can cause edema, including:

When edema happens in your arms, hands, legs, or feet, it can affect one limb or both. Edema that happens in just one limb is more likely to be related to a vascular problem, like a clot or other circulation issue.

While you can reduce the symptoms of edema with lifestyle changes or medication (or both) in most cases, you still need to treat the underlying cause to prevent recurrence and avoid other serious health problems.

Common signs of edema

Obviously, the most common sign of edema is swelling — but not just any swelling. With edema, swelling or puffiness happens most often just below the surface of your skin. As a result, your skin may look stretched or shiny.

When you press on an area with edema, your skin stays dimpled or depressed for a brief period rather than snapping back to a normal appearance. This effect is sometimes called “pitting,” and it’s common with more advanced stages of edema.

Other possible symptoms include:

Your symptoms can vary, based on where edema is occurring and what’s causing it. For instance, edema in your legs and feet can be a sign of a vascular problem, including chronic venous insufficiency or deep vein thrombosis, which is caused by a deep blood clot that can wind up traveling to your lungs. 

Pulmonary edema happens when fluid collects in your lungs, most often as a result of a heart problem. This type of edema is associated with breathing problems, chest pain, and shortness of breath.

In its early stages, edema may cause few symptoms beyond swelling, even though more serious problems can be developing. That’s why it’s very important to have edema evaluated as early as possible before life-threatening complications occur.

Early treatment of edema is key

Early evaluation ensures you get the right treatment to relieve swelling and treat the medical condition that’s causing edema. To learn how Dr. Burkett and her team can help, call our office in Warner Robins, Georgia, or book an appointment online today.

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