Human body consists of 70% of the water. Water is present both
inside and outside the body cells. Most of our organs such as
liver, kidneys and skin are composed of water. But, if there is an
excessive accumulation of water, it results in water accumulation, which is
termed as water retention or fluid accumulation.

Water Retention

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One may experience a sudden swelling, puffiness or bloating of feet, ankles, hands, fingers and face. Usually it is misinterpreted as a weight gain and even hard exercising fails to remove this water retention from the body.

 Water Retention-What exactly it is?

Water retention also known as is defined as an excessive build-up of fluid in the circulatory system, body tissues or cavities in the body which can lead to swelling of the hands, feet, ankles and legs.

Various factors result in water retention in the body. Some factors are as below:

  • Diet: Foods high in salt content such as chips, fast foods and processed food like meats can cause water retention in the body. Cold drinks can also result in water retention.
  • A low protein diet: A low protein diet can lead to albumin deficiency in the body, which also causes the water retention.
  • Decreased physical activity: Sitting or standing in a sedentary position for a longer period of time can also result in water retention in a particular area. You may observe it after having a long air journey or if you are travelling by a bus.
  • Hormonal changes: Women commonly experience a bloaty feeling especially during their menstrual cycle. Fluid retention causes painful breasts in women during menstrual cycle. Other symptoms include abdominal bloating and weight gain. Even some hormonal therapies lead to water retention
  • Hot weather: During hot weathers, our body tends to be less efficient in removing fluid from the tissues.

Some medical conditions such as nephritic syndrome, acute glomerulonephritis water, chronic lung disease like emphysema, malignant lymphoedema, thyroid disease, arthritis, allergic reactions, and autoimmune reactions like lupus also result in water retention.

Some common symptoms of water retention are:

  • Swelling in the affected body parts such as feet, ankles and hands
  • Bloaty feeling in the stomach
  • Pain in the swelled area
  • Joint stiffness
  • Sudden increase or decrease in the weight
  • An increased weight gain

How water retention is diagnosed?

  • A physical examination is usually performed by a physician
  • Medical history of the patient is taken
  • A detailed review of the edema is done, doctor sees what factors promote and decrease the swelling
  • A blood examination is recommended
  • Urine tests
  • Liver function tests
  • Kidney function tests
  • Chest x-ray
  • Heart function tests such as electrocardiogram (ECG)

What is the treatment of water retention?

After having a complete diagnosis, the treatment is done to treat the cause. Modifications in the diet, exercise and life style changes are generally introduced by the doctors to suppress edema. Below are some methods by which water retention is eliminated from the body:

  • Treating the causative factor which results in water retention
  • Lifestyle changes depending upon the medical condition
  • Water retention can be drug-induced also, hence doctor might replace those drugs with some other alternative drugs
  • Water pills (Diuretics) can help to eliminate retained water as it increases the urinary flow
  • It has been observed that light exercising at times is also beneficial in removing the water retention

Some tips by which you can remove the water retention from the body

  • Eat a low salt diet, as high intake of sodium in the salt can cause water retention
  • High intake of vitamin B6 decreases the water retention. Eat foods rich in vitamin B6 such as banana, potatoes, walnuts and meat
  • Include potassium rich food as they decrease the sodium levels in the body. Bananas and tomatoes are rich source of potassium
  • Drink lots of water
  • Avoid having refined foods
  • Avoid drinks like alcohol as it causes water retention
  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Raise your legs several times a day to reduce the water retention
  • Avoid sitting and standing still for too long, keep moving between work
  • Avoid hot baths or sauna as they also increase the body fluid retention