General Practice 2022

Edema: what é, types, causes and treatment

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Edema: what é, types, causes and treatment
Edema: what é, types, causes and treatment

Edema occurs when there is fluid accumulation under the skin, which usually appears due to infections or excessive s alt consumption, but can also arise in cases of inflammation, intoxication and hypoxia, which is when oxygen is lacking in a certain part of the body, in addition to disease of the kidneys, heart, or lymphatic system.

In this case, it is common for edema, also called swelling, to appear on the hands, arms, legs, feet and face, causing the skin to be marked with a slight depression whenever pressure is applied to the affected site with a finger. Depending on the cause, the appearance of edema can happen suddenly, or gradually throughout the day.

Edema treatment should be individualized and focused on eliminating the cause, but the general practitioner usually recommends rest, elevating the affected limb above the heart level and reducing the amount of s alt consumed daily, in addition to prescribing medication diuretics, which help release excess fluid in the body through urine.

Types of edema

Edema is classified into three types and aims to better clarify the cause and know exactly what the composition of the fluid that has leaked under the skin is. The main types of edema are:

1. Common edema

Common edema is composed of water and proteins and is usually related to less serious situations, such as insect bites, falls or allergies to pollen, perfumes, makeup and dust, for example.

However, when it is generalized, that is, when it is present in several parts of the body, it can be a more serious situation, which needs medical attention at the he alth center or hospital. This condition may also be known as anasarca, which is more common in he alth conditions such as cirrhosis of the liver, heart failure, or nephrotic syndrome. Understand better what anasarca is and how it is treated.

2. Lymphedema

Normally lymphedema is composed of water, proteins and lipids, and it happens when the fluid that is part of the lymphatic circulation escapes to the skin and organs. This is more common in cases of cancer, elephantiasis and obstructed lymph nodes. See how lymphedema can be treated.

3. Myxedema

The main difference of myxedema is the high presence of lipids in its composition, which makes the swelling firmer than other types of edema, also relying on water and proteins. Myxedema most often affects the face, leaving the eyes swollen, but it can also be generalized.

This type of edema occurs mainly when there is hypothyroidism or when hormonal treatment has been used.

Symptoms of edema

The main symptom of edema is swelling of the affected region, but if the swelling is very large, it is possible to notice other symptoms such as brighter and stretched skin. If the swelling is in the feet or legs, when walking, the person may feel a slight burning and tingling.

If the edema does not disappear after a few hours, or if there is mild or moderate pain, and the skin becomes sensitive, it is recommended to go to the emergency room to assess the condition and verify, through tests such as a blood count, echocardiogram, X-ray and 24-hour urine if it is not something more serious and requires specific treatment.

Possible causes

The main diseases responsible for causing edema can arise due to 4 types of body changes, such as:

1. Increase in capillary pressure

The increase in capillary pressure is usually caused by the obstruction of veins, which can happen by the accumulation of fat, thrombi or by external compression, due to very tight clothes, for example. When this happens, the pressure that liquids put on the blood vessels is greater than normal and, as a result, liquids end up escaping from the vessels and accumulating in the tissues of the body.

Usually the causes related to this issue are heart, renal or venous insufficiency, and in some cases, a high sodium/s alt diet.When these causes are not treated properly, they can lead to pulmonary edema, where fluid builds up in the lung. Understand better what lung edema is and how to treat it.

2. Plasma protein reduction

When the levels of plasma proteins in the body are reduced, the reabsorption of liquids in the deeper layers of the skin does not happen, and this ends up leading to the accumulation of liquids under the skin, thus generating edema. As a result, this fluid that is now in excess in the tissues is no longer in the circulation, which decreases the production of urine by the kidneys, resulting in more fluid inside the body, thus further increasing the edema.

Usually this type of edema appears in people who have nephrotic syndrome, liver disease, protein malnutrition, or who have suffered severe burns.

3. Increased capillary permeability

In this case, there is a greater permeability of blood vessels, usually caused by some inflammation, and, therefore, liquids end up escaping from the vessels and accumulating in the tissues of the body.

Some situations that can cause increased capillary pressure and edema are allergies, burns, vitamin C deficiency, infections, toxins or the use of vasodilators.

4. Blockade of lymphatic return

Edema caused by blockage of lymphatic return, also called lymphedema, occurs when there is an obstruction of lymphatic vessels. It is common for this to occur in case of hypothyroidism, cancer of the lymph nodes, or after lymphadenectomy.

The main characteristic of this edema is that the swelling seems to be firmer to the touch and the skin can look like an orange peel. Learn how lymphedema can be treated.

How the treatment is done

The treatment to eliminate edema should be according to the condition that caused it. In milder cases, rest, reduction of s alt intake in food and also massage in the affected region is indicated, to help drain excess fluid, until the edema disappears.

In the most serious cases, where he alth conditions such as liver, kidney and other organ diseases are present, treatment of the specific disease that caused the edema is necessary, in addition to the use of medications such as furosemide, bumetanide or spironolactone. See what other remedies can be used to deflate.

Care to prevent edema

He althy changes in the daily routine that are maintained over time can help prevent and reduce the intensity and appearance of new edema, such as:

  • Reduce consumption of sodium and s alt in food;
  • Maintain the ideal weight for height, age and sex;
  • Practice physical exercises regularly;
  • Elevate your legs when lying down or sitting above heart level.

These actions can be done by all people who do not have any chronic disease, however, for those who have a he alth problem, these practices must be indicated by a doctor responsible for the treatment before they are started.

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