How to Cure or Alleviate Edema

Two Methods:Lifestyle ChangesMedical Treatment

Edema is the accumulation of fluid in tissue, causing the hands, ankles, eyelids and other body parts to swell. It occurs as the result of certain medications, pregnancy, retaining salt, allergy or more serious underlying diseases. Making lifestyle and diet changes as well as taking diuretic medication are usually effective ways to cure or alleviate edema. Read on to learn more about how to reduce the swelling.

Method 1
Lifestyle Changes

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    Get moving. If you sit still for too long, edema tends to worsen, since the fluids sit stagnant in your body's tissues. Getting some light exercises increases circulation and pumps the fluids back toward your heart, helping the swelling go down.[1]
    • Go for short walks several times a day to get your blood moving. A 15-30 minute walk several times a day or fast walking, if physically able, can help the swelling go down.
    • In between walks, do leg and arm lifts (no weights needed) while you're sitting or lying down.
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    Elevate your legs or arms. Use a stool or pillows to prop up the part of your body that is affected by edema. The body part should be raised to a level slightly above your heart.[2] Elevate the body part for 30 minutes 3 or 4 times a day.
    • For severe edema, you may need to keep your body or part elevated while you sleep (a brick or similar wood piece under the foot of the bed might do the trick).
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    Massage the swollen body part. Rub it in a gentle way in the natural direction of the fluid circulation, towards the heart. If you have severe edema, a professional masseur should be engaged to perform the massage type called "manual lymphatic drainage".
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    Reduce your salt intake. Eating a lot of salt causes your body to retain water, making edema worse. Limit your intake of salty foods such as prepackaged snacks, fried food and fast food. Talk to your doctor about the specific amount of sodium you should be taking in every day.[3]
    • Doing most of your cooking at home instead of eating out is a good way to monitor the amount of salt you take in.
    • Most recipes will still taste great if you reduce the salt by half, or even more. Experiment with your baking and cooking to find recipes that taste good with less salt.
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    Have a healthy diet. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods can help reduce inflammation. Fish, seafood, fruit, vegetables, nuts, sunflowers, beans, peas, potatoes, almonds, and whole grains are beneficial. Use oils and food that contain omega-3-fatty acids and mono-unsaturated fatty acids.
    • Eating foods high in B-vitamins and iron can help alleviate edema. Eat leafy greens, whole grains, and sea vegetables.[4]
    • Eat foods that act as natural diuretics, like pumpkin, asparagus, and beets.[5]
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    Try herbal remedies. Scientific studies have revealed that herbs or herbal extracts containing flavonoids may cause a reduction in swelling. Try the following herbal products:
    • Bilberry extract. Use this with caution if you are on blood thinning medications.[6]
    • Dandelion leaf.
    • Grape-seed extract.
    • The following "diuretic" herbs can be made into tea by the addition of a teaspoon of your chosen herbs to a cup of boiling water:[7]
      • Horsetail,
      • Parsley,
      • Yarrow,
      • Nettle,
      • Watercress,
      • Birch tree leaves.
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    Take care of your skin. The skin on a body part affected by severe edema should receive special care, since it's particularly sensitive. Proper cleaning, daily use of moisturizing creams, and proper rinsing of skin injuries are necessary to prevent a more serious skin problem.

Method 2
Medical Treatment

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    Wear compression hose or sleeves. They put pressure on your limbs to prevent too much fluid from collecting. Compression garments may be found in most medical supply or drugstores, or you can talk with your doctor about getting one through your insurance.
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    Use an inflatable pump. You may use inflatable garments around the swollen limb as another way to reduce swelling. These are easier to slip on than compression garments, and you have greater control over the pressure they exert. Talk to your doctor about whether using a pump is right for you.
    • Sequential gradient pump therapy is another option in which electric pumps connected to inflatable garments are used to repeatedly and sequentially compress and decompress the swollen limb to aid fluid circulation.
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    Talk to your doctor about taking medication. If your edema doesn't go away on its own when you make lifestyle changes, your doctor may want to prescribe a diuretic to help flush the fluid from your body. Furosemide is the most commonly prescribed drug for treating edema.[8]
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    Get treated for underlying causes. Edema may be caused by pregnancy or certain medications, but there are also many diseases and underlying medical conditions that can cause edema. If you experience edema without knowing the cause, it's very important to get immediate medical attention to determine what's going on. The following serious diseases and illnesses may cause edema:
    • Infection of or injury to blood vessels
    • Kidney, heart or liver disease
    • Brain injury
    • Allergies


  • By serious edema, the measures you choose to do yourself should be discussed with a professional before you make your choice.
  • The measures described can be performed at home. The technically complicated ones should however be done after instruction from a professional.
  • Edema is a symptom both of serious and less serious diseases, and also a consequence of unhealthy lifestyle. By edema without known source, professional investigation should be performed.

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Categories: Feet Knees and Legs