Water retention occurs when excess fluids build up inside your body. It is also known as fluid retention or edema.
Water retention occurs in the circulatory system or within tissues and cavities. It can cause swelling in the hands, feet, ankles, and legs. There are several reasons why it happens, many of which are not serious.
Usually, you want to hold onto a good thing, but water may pose an exception to the rule. While staying hydrated supports good health, water retention or edema makes you bloated and uncomfortable.
Find out more about the causes and symptoms of edema. Take this crash course on water retention.
Understanding Water Retention:
- Spot the symptoms. Puffiness and swelling are among the most obvious signs of retaining water. You may notice bloating in your abdomen, as well as your legs, feet, and face. Your clothes feel tighter than usual, and you may lack energy.
- Understand the causes. Women often experience edema during pregnancy or menstrual periods due to related hormonal changes. Other common causes include long periods of inactivity, a diet high in sodium, or taking certain medications. Heredity can also play a role.
- Seek appropriate medical care. Water retention is usually harmless, but there are times when you need to see your doctor right away. Persistent or severe symptoms could be a sign of more serious conditions such as blood clots.
Using Diuretics Safely:
- Talk with your doctor. Simple lifestyle changes are usually all you need to eliminate excess water, but diuretics or water pills that help your body to urinate more may be needed in some cases. It’s important to consult your doctor before taking such medications to avoid adverse side effects.
- Try natural remedies. Some common foods and herbs have diuretic properties, and they’re usually gentler than supplements. Ask your doctor about any potential interactions, and if they approve, you may want to experiment with drinking dandelion tea or whipping up a batch of fresh basil and parsley pesto.
- Lose weight safely. Diuretics can be an appropriate course of treatment for edema, but there are more effective and less risky ways to slim down. Losing water weight can lead to dehydration, and you’re likely to gain the weight back quickly. Focus on building up muscle and reducing your body fat instead.
Treatments for Water Retention:
- Cut down on salt. Salt helps to balance fluid levels inside and outside of the cells that make up your body. Too much salt can overburden your kidneys, so check the labels on processed food, and spice up your meals with other flavors like pepper or garlic.
- Eat more magnesium. Magnesium reduces water retention. Good sources include leafy green vegetables, nuts, and whole grains.
- Increase your potassium levels. Potassium is another helpful mineral. You can find it in foods like potatoes, salmon, and yogurt.
- Try vitamin B-6. This group of related vitamins has been shown to relieve edema and other symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. Take supplements or snack on bananas.
- Stay active. Desk jobs and long flights can aggravate water retention. Take frequent breaks to stretch and walk around. Work out for at least a half-hour at least 3 days a week.
- Raise your feet. Just lifting your feet can help keep water from pooling in your lower body. Prop them up on a pillow or footstool.
- Wear compression stockings. Visit an athletic wear shop or browse online to find compression socks and leggings. Their tight fit squeezes fluids up and out of your legs and feet.
- Drink more water. You might think that drinking less water would relieve your bloating, but think again. When you consume more fluids, your body is less likely to retain them for long.
- Keep a diary. If you’re unsure about why you’re retaining water, write down what you’re experiencing. That way you can see how your activities affect your symptoms.
Some simple dietary changes may help reduce water retention.
For starters, you can try eating less salt, for example by cutting back on processed foods.
You can also consume foods that are rich in magnesium, potassium, and vitamin B6. Taking some dandelion or avoiding refined carbs may also do the trick.
However, if water retention persists or causes a lot of problems in your life, then you may want to see a doctor.
Prevent water retention by eating a balanced diet low in salt and exercising regularly. Talk with your doctor if your symptoms persist or you have additional questions.