Water retention or bloating is the condition characterized by the accumulation of excess water within the tissues, which causes swelling of the entire or some specific parts of the body. Several factors can cause water or fluid retention in the body, of which a few are discussed in this article, along with the treatment and prevention of this condition.
Water retention or edema refers to the retention of excess water within the tissues, or the interstitial spaces. This causes swelling or bloating in the areas where tissues retain excessive water or fluid. Apart from swelling, the affected individuals can experience weight gain, or fluctuations in body weight due to water retention.
Generally, excess water from the tissues are carried by the lymphatic system to the bloodstream. Water retention occurs when the lymphatic system fails to remove water from the interstitial space. It can be generalized or localized. In generalized water retention, water accumulates within the tissues of the entire body, which causes generalized swelling. On the other hand, localized fluid retention causes the accumulation of water, and swelling in some specific parts of the body like the legs, abdomen, face, etc.
What Causes Fluid Retention?
Fluid retention can be caused by several factors, including certain health conditions and diet.
- Bloating and edema are often associated with the excessive intake of sodium or salt. Sodium induces the kidneys to retain or conserve more water, which causes the accumulation of water or fluid within the tissues.
- Women are more likely to experience this problem a few days before menstruation, and during pregnancy due to the rising level of the hormone estrogen. A high level of estrogen activates the secretion of aldosterone, which in turn, stimulates the kidneys to conserve more water.
- Women can also suffer from fluid or water retention due to the intake of oral contraceptives that contain estrogen.
- Certain drugs like steroids, anti-inflammatory drugs, and hypertension medications can also cause this problem.
- Kidney diseases can be another important factor responsible for causing water retention, as such diseases compromise the ability of the kidneys to excrete sodium and fluid from the body.
- Apart from kidney diseases, water retention can be a symptom of some other medical conditions like congestive heart failure, liver cirrhosis, hypothyroidism, nutritional deficiencies, arthritis, severe allergic reactions, varicose vein, and chronic lung diseases.
Mild edema is usually treated with diuretics. However, severe fluid retention can require treatment and management of the underlying health conditions. Physicians usually recommend lifestyle and dietary modifications to manage the condition. Dietary modifications like reduction in the intake of salt or sodium, and inclusion of more green vegetables, fruits, and protein rich-foods in the diet, can provide significant relief.
Like dietary modifications, lifestyle modifications, especially regular exercising can help prevent water retention or edema. Cardiovascular exercises and water aerobics can help expel excess fluid from the body, and thus, reduce bloating and fluid retention, besides improving your health. Supplementation of calcium and magnesium can also help alleviate this condition. However, be sure to take supplementation only after consulting your physician.
Certain foods can also help reduce bloating and edema. Caffeine is known to have diuretic properties and so, it can provide relief in fluid retention. So, caffeinated beverages can be used for reducing bloating and fluid retention. Other natural diuretic foods that can help alleviate edema are, cranberry juice, celery, lemon juice, tomato juice, tea, peppermint, parsley, anise, asparagus, and dandelion.
Apart from these, drink plenty of water (at least 7 to 8 glasses of water) daily to reduce water retention in the body. This may sound a bit contradictory, as fluid retention is the accumulation of excess water or fluid within the tissues. But many people are not aware of the fact that, dehydration can induce the body to conserve or retain more water within the tissues to prevent a shortage of water in the body.
So, it is important to drink sufficient water, so that the body can expel extra water and sodium efficiently. Mild and temporary fluid retention can be managed effectively with the help of these simple measures. But severe fluid retention or edema calls for immediate medical attention.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be replaced for the advice of a medical professional.