The term edema refers to swelling in the body due to fluid retention. The swelling can be restricted to one area of the body, such as the ankles, or can include the entire body. The best edema treatment depends a great deal on what is causing the fluid to build up in the tissues. Sometimes, this condition has no known cause, called idiopathic edema, but it can also be the result of heart and circulatory problems.
One of the first treatments recommended for edema is to reduce the level of salt in the diet. Reducing the sodium in the patient's diet may be all that is necessary for the edema to resolve itself. It is also possible to reduce sodium levels in the body by the use of prescription diuretics. If a medical professional prescribes diuretics, he will monitor the patient carefully to prevent side effects of the medication.
An frequently effective treatment that does not require medication is daily bed rest. This is particularly effective if the swelling is present only in the legs, and lying with the feet slightly elevated can often provide relief. Some healthcare professionals also provide elastic support stockings for patients who are suffering from edema.
There are a variety of herbal treatments and vitamin supplements that can be used to treat edema. Their effectiveness varies with the individual, and it is important for patients not to take any herbal supplements without discussing it with a medical professional first. It is particularly important for people who are taking prescription diuretics or are suffering from heart failure-induced edema to tell their healthcare providers about any medications or supplements they are taking.
Magnesium is a mineral supplement that shows promise for reducing edema. It can be purchased on its own, or as part of a multivitamin. This mineral is bulky, however, so it is uncommon to find a multivitamin that has 100% of the recommended daily amount of magnesium in it.
Evening primrose oil is a rich source of gamma linolenic acid, which may work as an edema treatment for some people. Some researchers believe that evening primrose oil’s effectiveness is increased by combining it with fish oil supplements. This combination is considered particularly effective for treatment of fluid retention that is associated with premenstrual syndrome.
Ginko biloba is an herbal supplement that is believed to support circulatory health. Its positive effect on the circulatory system is believed to decrease fluid accumulation associated with edema. Another herbal supplement, horse chestnut, is also believed to support circulatory health as well as prevent capillaries from leaking fluid into the surrounding tissue. Dandelion leaf, a diuretic, is also used by some patients, but people taking prescription diuretics should not use it.