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The Causes of Retaining Water

By Nicki Howell

Water retention is caused by fluid build up in body tissues, according to MedlinePlus. This condition is also called edema. The legs, ankles and feet are prone to water retention. However, this problem can occur anywhere in the body. For most people, water retention isn’t a serious medical concern. However, there is a small chance that water retention is caused by underlying medical issues.

Medicine and Water Retention

Medications can cause water retention. For example, drugs that focus on opening the blood vessels, called vasodilators, may cause this health issue. Calcium channel blockers, also called calcium antagonists, are another possible cause, according to the Mayo Clinic. Other medications with water retention side effects include estrogens and thiazolidinediones, which are used to treat diabetes.

Hormonal Causes

Hormones also play a role in water retention. This is a common problem during a women’s menstrual cycle. Women are also more susceptible to water retention during pregnancy, causing swelling of the feet, hands and face. If you experience water retention during pregnancy, consult your doctor. This problem can be serious in pregnant women.

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Serious Causes of Water Retention

Although less common, there are serious underlying causes of water retention. For example, kidney disease may cause this health issue. Your body isn’t able to eliminate enough fluids and sodium, causing the body to retain water. If you have kidney issues, water retention usually occurs around the eyes and legs.

An inadequate lymphatic system also causes water retention. This health concern is usually caused by infection or cancer. As a result, the lymph nodes and vessels aren’t draining correctly, resulting in water retention.

Treating Water Retention

The first step in treating water retention is consulting your doctor. She can rule out a serious medical issue and recommend the proper treatment. Decreasing salt intake can assist with reducing water retention. Massaging the affected area and applying gentle pressure can encourage excess fluid to move. Getting plenty of movement in the area of the body that’s affected is also helpful.

Your doctor might also prescribe a diuretic, such as thiazide diuretics or spironolactone, which causes your kidney to increase the amount of water put out. If water retention is a medication side-effect, your doctor might try a different drug for treatment.

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