Most of us have had at least some minor swelling during our lives. An infected tooth, a bug bite, or a bruise can all be accompanied by a little swelling, usually as a result of inflammation or minor fluid leakage.
But edema is different. Edema is a type of swelling that happens when fluid builds up in one or more areas of the body, and usually, it’s due to a problem with the way the body circulates or eliminates fluids.
Edema is often a sign of a more complex underlying problem. Congestive heart failure, liver disease, and chronic venous disease can all cause edema, and so can a problem with your kidneys.
As a leading nephrology practice in Houston and Cypress, Texas, Houston Kidney Specialists Center uses advanced techniques to determine the underlying cause of edema, helping patients get the care they need to feel better and help prevent serious complications. In this post, our team offers a brief overview of the link between your kidneys and edema.
Your kidneys and edema
Your kidneys act as your body’s filters, removing wastes and excess fluids through your urine. When your kidneys are damaged or injured by disease, the filtering process breaks down and fluids back up, becoming trapped in your tissues and around your organs.
Edema can occur anywhere in your body, but when it’s caused by a kidney problem, it usually happens in your extremities — your ankles, feet, and lower legs. This type of edema is called peripheral edema, and it can also happen in your arms, hands, and even your face.
Unlike the “hard” swelling that may follow a bee sting or a bruise, edema tends to feel “softer” when you press on the swollen area. In severe cases, your skin may stay depressed after you touch it. This type of edema is called pitted edema.
As your skin swells, the fluid that builds up puts pressure on your skin, causing it to appear shiny or stretched. Sometimes, sores form if you rub or scratch your skin. Without proper care, these sores can quickly become infected and lead to serious complications.
Nephrology is the medical specialty that focuses on your kidneys and how well they function. Doctors who specialize in nephrology have an extensive understanding of kidney functions and diseases. They also have an in-depth knowledge of techniques that can be used to diagnose and manage kidney problems, such as edema.
Before we prescribe treatment, we review your medical history and perform lab tests, such as urinalysis and blood tests, to look for signs of kidney dysfunction. If we determine your kidneys are behind your edema symptoms, we move forward with additional testing to identify the most appropriate treatment.
Treatment often begins with medications — called diuretics — to help rid your body of the excess fluid. Then, we focus your therapy on the specific cause, such as kidney disease or high blood pressure. Throughout your therapy, you’ll have regular office visits and testing to make sure your treatment remains effective.
Learn what’s causing your edema
Edema can be a sign of a serious problem with your kidneys or another aspect of your health, and it should never be ignored. With prompt medical treatment, we can help relieve your swelling and manage the underlying condition that’s causing it.
To find out what’s causing your edema, call 281-429-8780 or request an appointment online with Houston Kidney Specialists Center today.