Edema is a form of swelling caused by excess fluids trapped in body tissues. Such swelling is commonly seen in the ankles, feet, legs, arms and hands. This disease can be the result of a temporary condition, especially during pregnancy or after an injury. Edema can also be the result of heart, kidney or liver disease, or it can be another effect of taking medication. This pathology can also be peripheral, i.e. affecting the ankles, feet, legs, arms and hands, or it can be central, i.e. affecting internal organs such as the lungs. Fortunately, there are a few simple methods that will help you reduce this swelling easily and naturally.
Method 1 of 4: Identify peripheral edema
Step 1. Observe the common symptoms
Peripheral edema is characterized by swelling of the ankles, feet, arms, and hands. This condition can make your skin tight or shiny.
If you press down on the swollen part with a finger and the hollow area remains intact for a while, you may have edema. Edema occurs when we often spend long periods of time sitting
Step 2. Evaluate the potential risks for you to have edema peripheral
Moderate or moderate peripheral edema can be the result of several causes, including:
- staying in place for a long time without doing any movement or exercise,
- eating foods that are too high in salt,
- hormonal imbalance (including intestinal bloating and changes in estrogen levels),
- the pregnancy,
- having a post-surgical injury to the lymphatic system or lymph nodes (usually after breast cancer surgery),
- taking certain medicines, such as steroids, medicines for high blood pressure, medicines for diabetes and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Step 3. Become aware of the underlying medical causes
In addition to the risks mentioned above, edema can also be caused by a variety of systemic diseases. Get examined by a healthcare professional to check the following:
- congestive heart failure
- liver disease
- kidney disease or nephrotic syndrome (a condition of the kidneys that involves a low amount of blood albumin, an important protein available in the blood),
- chronic venous insufficiency, such as varicose veins which prevent the proper circulation of blood,
- lymphatic insufficiency or damage (which may be caused by chemotherapy, surgery, or another injury).
Method 2 of 4: Change your diet and lifestyle
Step 1. Reduce your salt intake
Too much salt in the body draws water into the tissues, which means that reducing the consumption of foods that are too salty can reduce the chances of getting edema. You will need to see a nutritionist or dietitian to help you maintain a diet that is less demanding on salty foods, but there are a few general tips you should follow to limit your salt intake.
- Do not add table salts to your meals. It might take a while for you to adjust to the less salty flavors, but eventually you will find that you like the tastes of food more that way. You can also try adding other herbs or spices like dill, curie powder, cumin or thyme to add a little variety of flavors to your dishes.
- Limit your intake of processed foods. This includes canned goods, frozen and canned goods (including soup) that you buy in stores.
- Eat the whole foods you cook. If you prepare the meal yourself, you can be sure how much salt to add. The best method to adopt is to concentrate your purchases on items located around the grocery store and not in the central aisles. Indeed, you will find all kinds of products there, including cold meats, seafood, dairy products and products left in bulk (which often include legumes, vegetables, whole grains and nuts).
- Explore the organic produce section of supermarkets. You will sometimes find dishes of great nutritional value there. Read the label of all prepared foods to get an idea of the sodium content.
Step 2. Improve the nutritional balance in your diet
The best way to make sure that you have the right nutritional balance in your diet is to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. These foods are naturally low in salt and all contain a variety of nutrients.
- Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables like asparagus, parsley, beets, grapes, green beans, green vegetables, pumpkins, pineapple, onion, leeks and garlic.
- Brightly colored vegetables often have the highest nutritional values.
- It may be beneficial to include antioxidant foods like blueberries, raspberries, cherries, tomatoes, squash, and peppers.
Step 3. Limit your meat consumption
You will need to limit the amount of meat you eat. Some meats (such as cold cuts, cold cuts, and red meats) are high in sodium. In addition, excessive fat consumption can interfere with the proper functioning of the liver, gallbladder and digestion, which can make edema worse.
Step 4. Drink plenty of water
It might seem illogical to drink more water if you are retaining water. However, it is the best way to help cleanse your body. Make the effort to drink 6 to 8 glasses of 250 ml of water per day.
If your doctor has prescribed diuretics (water pills), be sure to ask for the ideal amount of water to consume
Step 5. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco
These products can increase peripheral edema and affect your general health. Alcohol and caffeine can dehydrate you and if you don't consume these drinks, be sure to drink extra water to counteract their effects.
Step 6. Do a number of specific exercises
It is common knowledge that edema can be caused by the lack of proper exercise or movement. Many people don't know that edema can also get when they exercise too much. It is important that you talk to your doctor about the right amount and type of exercise for you.
If you are not used to regular rigorous exercise, make the effort to make this part of your daily life, but in a gradual way. If you have just recovered from an operation or an illness, use caution and exercise with a doctor or physiotherapist, while slowly increasing the pace of your exercise
Step 7. Avoid sitting for a long time
One of the causes of edema is spending too much time sitting still and not moving. Going for a walk causes the muscles in your leg to relax and contract, which helps to “massage” or stimulate your veins and allow them to carry blood to the heart and lungs. Sitting for a long time allows blood to flow through the limbs.
Step 8. Keep your feet lifted for a long time when you are seated
If you can't avoid sitting for a long time, try to keep your feet up to avoid tiring yourself. Put your feet on a table, chair or couch. You can even form a stack of pads on the support your feet will rest on for extra comfort.
Step 9. Take a walk every hour
If you have to spend long hours sitting still, taking 5 minutes per hour to walk should provide relief from your edema. Take a walk around your room to fill your water bottle or take a walk around your home. This will likely put you in a good mood, allow you to concentrate better, and reduce your edema.
Many people find that the pain gets worse in the evening. If you lay down on the couch after a long day at work, you will still need to make the effort to get up and walk once or twice an hour
Step 10. Raise your arms
If most peripheral edema is in the hands and wrists, it is recommended that you raise your hands and arms higher above your head every 30 minutes or even every hour. This will allow gravity to easily drain the secretions from your limbs.
You may find it helpful to gently wave or move your arms when they are raised in the air above your head
Step 11. Wear compression stockings or sleeves
They are elastic devices that reduce the existing pressure in your legs and ankles to prevent fluid build-up. You can find it in medical device stores and drugstores.
- Many people find these supports difficult to wear due to their elasticity. The best way to wear them is to pull the end up to ankle level, tuck your feet in, and pull the remaining length up to ankle and calf level.
- Many doctors or physiotherapists recommend that patients wear compression garments when exercising. Be sure to consult your primary care physician for recommendations.
- Certain compression garments must be specially adapted to your body. For example, there are women who wear compression garments on their arms after having breast surgery.
- Your doctor may recommend a compression garment that incorporates an air pump that will temporarily contract.
Method 3 of 4: Try natural methods
Step 1. Talk to your doctor
Natural remedies are often harmless and harmless, but you should always consult a doctor before trying to treat yourself with these natural products.
Step 2. Drink herbal teas
These herbal teas work as a diuretic agent, increasing the amount of urine you make and then removing excess fluid from your body. Be careful with allergic plants and consult your doctor or pharmacist to know the interactions it could have with taking other medicines. Consume 3 to 4 cups of herbal tea per day, adding honey, stevia or lemon to improve the taste.
- Dandelion leaf herbal tea: use the leaves of this plant and not the roots which have no effect in the treatment of edema.
- Cardamom tea: Make your own herbal tea by adding 1 teaspoon of dried seeds or herbs to a cup of hot water.
- Chamomile tea: This herbal tea can also help you relax and sleep.
- Chicory tea: this herbal tea can be a good substitute for coffee.
- Fennel tea: make your own herbal tea by adding 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds or leaves to a glass of water. Fennel also aids digestion and freshens breath.
- Parsley herbal tea: this herbal tea is diuretic and facilitates digestion.
- Stinging nettle herbal tea: this herbal tea is diuretic and provides vitamins and minerals.
Step 3. Take antioxidants
Antioxidants can indirectly help treat edema, because they strengthen the veins. In addition to consuming antioxidant foods, you can try taking a supplement such as grape seed extract (360 mg twice daily) or blueberry extract (80 mg three times daily).
Step 4. Do acupuncture
Acupuncture, a common method in traditional Chinese medicine, involves inserting needles into specific places on the body. Traditional Chinese medicine seeks to stabilize the body and therefore perceives edema as a sign of instability. Acupuncture for edema would seek to rebalance the body so that fluids can flow more easily in the body.
Visit the official site of the Professional Directory of Acupuncturist Physicians in France to find a licensed acupuncturist
Step 5. Do massage therapy
Massage therapy can stimulate the circulation and physical transport of secretions to the tissues and then return them to the blood and to the lymphatic system. Lymphedema massage, also called lymphatic drainage or lymphatic drainage therapy, is a form of massage that stimulates lymph circulation while strengthening the immune system.
- Your doctor may be able to recommend a specialist.
- To find a certified and well-trained massage therapist near you, consult this directory of lymphatic drainage practitioners in Paris.
Step 6. Do an underwater massage yourself, also called hydromassage
Naturopaths often recommend this type of massage, which also helps stimulate lymphatic circulation. It can reduce edema through the contraction and dilation of lymphatic vessels and valves, thereby improving circulation to your heart and limbs. You can do this massage at home using a hand shower.
- Start by washing your feet with cold water. Dip one foot, then the other, after which you will move the spray device from your feet towards your heart, while going through your legs.
- Then wash each hand with cold water. After your hands are soaked, move the spray device from your hand to your heart, while running through your arms. Take the same thing with the other hand and follow the same direction.
- Turn on the tap to get hot water, but be careful that it does not burn you.
- Repeat the process of washing your feet, then move on to the legs, hands and arms, but this time with hot water.
- Now resume with cold water and repeat once more the process you previously followed with hot water to complete the whole procedure.
Step 7. Try lymphatic brushing
Lymphatic brushing also called "dry lymphatic brushing" is another method of traditional Chinese medicine. You can try this method at home using a soft bristle brush with a long handle or a cotton towel.
- Your skin and brush (or towel) must be completely dry before you begin this technique.
- Your movements should be long and directed towards your heart. Avoid making rubbing movements.
- Brush from your hands to the arms and finish with the shoulders.
- Brush your back, starting at the spine and ending at shoulder level.
- Brush your neck from the hairline to the shoulders.
- Brush from the chest up to the neck.
- Brush from the navel to the center of the chest.
- Brush from the chest to the level of the armpit area.
- Brush the legs starting with the feet. Then brush from ankle to knee, front and back and both sides. Do the same starting from the knee to the lower abdomen and working through the front, back and sides.
- Brush starting from the lower abdomen to the navel.
- This process should take around 5 minutes and then you will need to take a hot or cold bath in addition to a cold rinse at the end.You need to do lymphatic brushing once or twice a day.
Method 4 of 4: Treat internal edema
Step 1. Look for symptoms
Internal edema can be characterized by swelling of the abdomen. Pulmonary edema can cause shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, or chest pain.
Step 2. Consult a healthcare practitioner
Internal edema is a serious disease. You should not try to reduce the effects of this condition by taking medication at home. Talk to your doctor and follow their instructions on how to properly treat your edema.
Step 3. Treat your condition under the supervision of a doctor
Treatment may involve taking medications such as diuretics, ACE inhibitors, beta blockers, or corticosteroids. Be sure to consult a doctor before continuing with any treatment.
- Take care of your skin when you are suffering from edema. You may need to use additional lotions or creams to limit the stretching of the skin that accompanies the edema.
- Minor swelling can sometimes be controlled using an ice pack. Cover the ice pack with a towel and place it on the swollen area for about 10 minutes. Repeat this technique every 2 to 4 hours.
- Do not combine hydromassage and the technique of brushing the skin.
- If there is no improvement after 4 or 5 days of treatment at home, see a doctor immediately for advice.
- Always consult a doctor before trying any treatment or natural medicine at home.