While it’s not unusual to have some mild, temporary swelling around a cut or bruise due to inflammation in the area, another type of swelling — called edema — can have a much more serious cause. Edema generally refers to swelling that occurs when excess fluids get trapped inside your body’s soft tissues. Some types of edema are associated with serious underlying medical problems, such as kidney disease.
Nephrology is a medical specialty that aims to restore and improve kidney function. With four locations in Houston and Cypress, Texas, Houston Kidney Specialists Center offers state-of-the-art treatments for edema related to kidney function and kidney disease. In this blog, our team explains how nephrology care can help treat kidney-related edema.
Edema and your kidneys
You probably know your kidneys help eliminate fluids from your body through urination. But, kidneys also filter fluids, removing excess waste products from your blood. If your kidneys don’t work properly, fluid can get trapped in your body. Some waste products, such as sodium, can cause fluid to get trapped in your soft tissues and cause swelling under your skin.
Kidney disease can cause swelling — or edema — anywhere in the body, but it’s most common in the feet, andkles, and lower legs — all areas affected most by gravity. Some people also have swelling in their hands or face.
If there’s a lot of swelling, you might notice that when you press the swollen skin with your finger, the area stays dimpled or “pitted” even after you remove your finger. This is sometimes called pitting edema, and it’s typically associated with more severe edema.
If your tissues continue to swell, this will put more pressure on your skin, and your skin may look shiny or taut in the affected areas. Your skin may also be more prone to cuts and sores because it’s stretched out. Some people develop skin ulcers, which are deep sores that take a long time to heal.
Nephrology and edema
Several medical problems can cause edema, including congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, liver disease, and, of course, kidney disease. When edema is related to kidney function, nephrology care can help. Nephrology is the specialty area of medicine that’s focused on restoring kidney function and improving overall health.
In order to determine if your kidneys are causing your edema symptoms, our team will perform an exam, review your symptoms and health history, and order tests, such as blood work, urinalysis, and imaging, to look at your kidneys. Depending on the findings, your doctor might order a small tissue sample be taken from your kidneys.
After your evaluation, our team can develop a treatment plan based on your needs. Treatment might include:
- Medications to reduce fluids
- Management of hypertension
- Surgery or minimally invasive procedures
Edema is your body’s way of telling you that something’s not right — and it can be a sign of a serious kidney problem. To prevent complications from developing, you need to seek treatment as soon as possible. If you have swelling in your feet, hands, or any part of your body, book an appointment online or over the phone with Houston Kidney Specialists Center today.