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General Practice 2023

Anasarca: what é, symptoms, causes and treatment

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Anasarca: what é, symptoms, causes and treatment
Anasarca: what é, symptoms, causes and treatment

Anasarca is a generalized swelling in the body that occurs due to the accumulation of fluid within cells and in the space between cells, being considered a symptom caused by various he alth problems such as heart, kidney or liver failure and even diseases of the lymphatic system.

In addition to swelling in the body, anasarca can generate other symptoms depending on the severity and which organs are affected, such as increased blood pressure, changes in heart rate, chest pain or shortness of breath.

The diagnosis of anasarca is made by a general practitioner, nephrologist, hepatologist or cardiologist who can indicate the most appropriate treatment that varies according to the he alth condition that caused the swelling, and the use of diuretic drugs is usually indicated. and the reduction of s alt consumption in the diet.


Symptoms of anasarca

The main symptoms of anasarca are:

  • Generalized swelling throughout the body;
  • Difficulty opening the eyes if the swelling is very large on the face;
  • Difficulty walking or moving around;
  • Difficulty lifting arms;
  • Joint pain;
  • High or very low blood pressure;
  • High heart rate;
  • Red spots on palms;
  • Yellow skin and eyes;
  • Decrease in the amount of urine;
  • Absence of urine production;
  • Presence of blood in the urine.

In the most serious cases, the person with anasarca may have chest pain or shortness of breath and difficulty breathing and if this happens it is necessary to seek medical attention immediately, calling the SAMU ambulance, as it may be pulmonary edema, which is the accumulation of fluid within the lungs. Learn more about pulmonary edema and how to treat it.

How to confirm the diagnosis

The diagnosis of anasarca is made by a general practitioner, nephrologist or cardiologist through a detailed examination of the edema, such as the performance of Godet's sign, or locker sign, in which when pressing the leg or arm with the tip of the index finger, for a few seconds, a dimple is in place.

The doctor should also evaluate the color, texture and temperature of the skin in the swollen areas and the presence of any distended vein in the body. In addition, you should ask the person if the edema worsens in a specific position and if any medication is used continuously.

In addition, the doctor may request additional tests to discover the cause of anasarca, which can be blood tests, 24-hour urine collection, liver and kidney function tests, echocardiography, lymphoscintigraphy, ray Chest X-ray, renal or venous ultrasound, magnetic resonance angiography or CT scan.

Causes of anasarca

Anasarca is caused by increased pressure in the blood vessels causing lymph to leave the bloodstream more easily, blockage of lymph vessels, or retention of s alt and water throughout the body. These conditions can be caused by some diseases, such as:

  • Heart failure;
  • Kidney failure;
  • Liver cirrhosis;
  • Malignant ascites;
  • Hepatic venous congestion;
  • Nephrotic Syndrome;
  • Venous obstruction;
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT);
  • Systemic capillary leak syndrome;
  • Sepsis;
  • Trauma;
  • Extensive burns;
  • Malignant tumors;
  • Paraneoplastic syndrome;
  • Protein-caloric malnutrition;
  • Vitamin B1 deficiency;
  • Severe allergic reactions;
  • Side effect of medication such as amlodipine or docetaxel;
  • Excessive administration of intravenous fluids in hospitals.

In addition, anasarca can also appear at the end of pregnancy, when the baby's weight causes more fluid retention in the mother's body, but in this case the anasarca disappears after the baby is born. Lymphatic drainage can be done to improve symptoms of bloating in pregnancy after the third month. See more about how to perform lymphatic drainage in pregnancy.

How the treatment is done

Treatment of anasarca should be done under the guidance of a general practitioner, cardiologist, nephrologist or hepatologist, who should indicate the best drug treatment for the he alth condition that caused the anasarca. In general, diuretic drugs, such as furosemide or spironolactone, are indicated to help eliminate excess fluid from the body. See the main diuretics indicated to deflate.

Furthermore, depending on the cause of the anasarca, the doctor may indicate the use of drugs such as anticoagulants, antihypertensives, antibiotics for the treatment of sepsis, or even reduce the amount of saline administered into the vein in hospitalized people.

To reduce anasarca, in cases of venous insufficiency, the doctor may also recommend leg elevation, use of compression stockings or pneumatic compression devices, which is when a device is placed on the legs that fill with air and then empty, giving the sensation of squeezing and releasing, improving circulation in the legs. See more about what compression stockings are for.

It is important that special care is taken with the skin, such as the use of moisturizing creams, as anasarca can lead to the appearance of lesions and ulcers due to the skin stretching a lot with swelling.

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