Edema is swelling of the extremities, usually the legs, ankles and feet, and occasionally involving the arms and hands, face and trunk. It is caused by fluid accumulation in the tissues. Various medical conditions including severe varicose veins, blood clot (DVT), heart failure, kidney disease and cirrhosis of the liver can cause this condition, and many medications as well as excessive salt ingestion can precipitate or make edema worse. Pregnant women are more prone to this condition, as are people who sit or stand for prolonged periods of time. Diagnosis is quite simple, usually made by performing the “dimple” test. Compressing the lower shin with a finger for 10 seconds will leave an obvious depression, which sometimes will persist for up to a minute.
Treatment is based on the underlying cause, and usually involves a diuretitc (water pill). Because some reasons for edema are dangerous, a physician evaluation is advised. Laboratory and imaging studies such as ultrasound imaging are oftentimes used to determine the cause and begin the appropriate treatment regimen. Other measures to treat edema include elevating the legs, using support stockings, avoid prolonged sitting or standing and limiting salt intake…..Richard R Samuel, MD Family Practice and Urgent Care Hayden, ID USA