What is fluid retention?

Fluid retention (edema) is excess fluid that collects in the tissues in your body. Most commonly, fluid retention is marked by swelling of your feet and lower legs, but swelling could also occur in your arms, hands, face, or other areas of the body.

Fluid Retention Spotlight

Fluid retention can be caused by a wide range of conditions and diseases. The most common cause of fluid retention is too much salt in your diet. Other significant causes include heart failure; kidney disease (includes any type of kidney problem, such as kidney stones, kidney failure and kidney anomalies); liver disease (includes any type of liver problem, such as hepatitis, cirrhosis and liver failure); side effects from certain medications, including blood pressure medications; and conditions that affect your lymph nodes.

Fluid retention can be mild or severe. A mild case can happen after eating a meal that is high in salt. A severe response can occur if extra water builds up inside of your lungs, a condition known as pulmonary edema that can make it very difficult to breathe.

The most common treatment for fluid retention is diuretics, which are prescribed to increase urination. These medications may help alleviate symptoms; however, it is also important to treat the underlying cause of fluid retention, such as heart failure or chronic disease.

Fluid retention can accompany serious or even life-threatening conditions. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you have trouble breathing, chest pain or pressure, an inability to urinate, or a decrease in urination.

Seek prompt medical care if you have any unexplained fluid retention or swelling that is persistent or causes you concern.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with fluid retention?

Fluid retention may accompany other symptoms that vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently accompany fluid retention may also involve other body systems.... Read more about fluid retentionsymptoms

CAUSES

What causes fluid retention?

Fluid retention is caused by too much fluid in your body tissues. There are a variety of causes, including changes in the levels of minerals and proteins in your blood and tissues, heart failure, kidney failure, and certain medicines.... Read more about fluid retentioncauses

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Heart, Blood and Circulation