Skip to main content

Understanding Common Causes of Edema

Understanding Common Causes of Edema

Most of us have had a little swelling at some point in our lives, maybe from an insect bite or a minor burn. But edema is different. Edema is a particular kind of swelling that happens when fluid gets trapped inside your body’s tissues. 

Unlike temporary swelling, which typically clears up on its own, edema can be a sign of a serious medical problem, including problems with your kidneys. Finding out the cause of your edema is the first step in making sure you get the right treatment.

The team at Houston Kidney Specialists Center uses comprehensive patient exams and advanced diagnostic techniques to get to the root causes of edema in patients at our practices in Houston and Cypress, Texas. Here’s what they want you to know about edema.

Edema 101

Your body’s organs, tissues, and systems need a certain amount of fluid to work the way they’re supposed to. However, too much fluid can flood your body and interfere with normal functioning. 

In addition to swelling, edema can cause other symptoms, such as:

When it happens in your feet, edema can make it hard to wear shoes or walk normally. In your ankles or wrists, the excess fluid can interfere with bending and flexing the joint. Edema in your hands can make it hard to perform certain tasks.

Edema often happens when one or more systems stop working, preventing fluid from being used or excreted. Common causes of edema include:

Edema can also be caused by some medications or by prolonged periods of sitting or standing. Often, edema happens because of a problem with your kidneys.

Kidney function and edema

Edema associated with kidney disease happens when your kidneys don’t filter your blood the way they’re supposed to. In healthy kidneys, tiny blood vessels (capillaries) filter out wastes and impurities and eliminate them through your urine. The filtered blood returns to circulation, while excess fluids are excreted in urine.

When you have kidney disease, the filtering process breaks down. Wastes are not completely removed from your blood, and extra fluid and sodium cause your tissues to swell. Kidney damage is also associated with low levels of a protein called albumin, which can also contribute to edema.

If you have edema, your doctor will check your kidney function using urinalysis and blood tests. Depending on the results, you might need other tests or diagnostic imaging using ultrasound or CT scans, so your doctor can see the structure of your kidneys.

Treating edema

If you have edema because of a problem with your kidneys, our team will develop a treatment plan aimed at improving kidney function and protecting your kidney health. They’ll also prescribe treatment to relieve your edema, which may include any of the following:

Kidney disease can be acute or chronic, and many patients need ongoing treatment to make sure their kidneys stay healthy. 

Find out what’s causing your edema

Unless it becomes severe enough to compromise your circulation, edema itself is typically harmless. But the underlying issues that cause edema can be very serious — even life-threatening. 

To learn what’s causing your edema and how the team at Houston Kidney Specialists Center can help you find the right treatment, call 281-429-8780 or book an appointment online today.

You Might Also Enjoy...

 5 Signs of an Electrolyte Imbalance

5 Signs of an Electrolyte Imbalance

Electrolytes play critical roles in our health and wellness. Here, learn how to recognize an electrolyte imbalance before it causes serious problems.
Diagnosed with Vasculitis? What to Expect Next

Diagnosed with Vasculitis? What to Expect Next

Vasculitis is a serious medical condition causing inflamed blood vessels. Fortunately, there are treatments to prevent complications and improve blood vessel health. Here’s how we can help.
4 Ways to Lower Your Risk of Kidney Disease

4 Ways to Lower Your Risk of Kidney Disease

Millions of Americans have kidney disease, and that number is increasing. The good news is that kidney disease can be prevented with a few simple lifestyle changes, including the four listed here.
What's Causing My Recurring Kidney Stones?

What's Causing My Recurring Kidney Stones?

For many people, kidney stones are a one-time event. For others, stones form — and cause symptoms — on a regular basis. Here’s why kidney stones happen and what you can do to prevent them from recurring.