Sometimes in our bodies, fluid leaks from the blood into the body tissues. Our body is made up of a system of tubes known as the lymphatic system whose work is to drain this fluid from the body tissues back into the blood. When this does not occur, the fluid is retained in the tissues leading to a condition known as oedema or fluid retention.
Fluid retention can either be generalized oedema where there is swelling throughout the body, or localized oedema where only specific parts of the body swell. Common symptoms include bloating, swelling and puffiness. Fluid retention can lead to serious medical conditions and one should consult a doctor and not self-treat. To be on the safe side, it is good to know what can trigger one. Here are 8 causes of fluid retention.
1. The Heart
The pumping of the heart usually regulates blood pressure within the blood vessels. If the heart starts to fail, the blood pressure is affected. This consequently leads to water retention. In this case, the legs, feet and ankles usually swell. The fluid can also build up in the lungs leading to breathing complications.
During pregnancy, the uterus exerts weight on major veins that are found in the pelvis. This causes fluid to buildup in the body. It is not a serious problem and in most cases it eases after childbirth.
Fluid that is rich in nutrients and oxygen, referred to as interstitial fluid, usually nourishes the body cells before being transported back into the capillaries. If there is something wrong with the pressure in the capillaries, excess liquid is released into the spaces in between the cells. Too much fluid being released into the cells leads to swelling and water retention.
4. The Kidney
The kidney plays a vital role in eliminating waste products from our body. When there is irregular blood flow to the kidney, its working is affected and waste products including fluids are not eliminated. This leads to fluid retention.
5. Physical Inactivity
Lack of physical activity reduces blood circulation and blood can begin to accumulate in the legs. This causes a high pressure in the capillaries leads to fluid leaving the capillaries at a high rate. The pressure also makes it difficult for the fluid to move back into the capillaries. This then leads to fluid retention. This can happen especially in long-haul flights. Making minor movements where possible can help reduce the fluid retention.
Certain levels of proteins are necessary in our bodies in order to have water balance. Protein deficiency can make this impossible leading to fluid retention.
Certain drugs cause water retention such as those that contain estrogen, for example birth control pills. Beta-blockers that treat abnormal heart rhythms can also have this effect.
8. The Lymphatic System
The lymphatic system is responsible for draining a fluid known as lymph from tissues back into the bloodstream. If there is too much fluid released, the system can be unable to drain the lymph back into the bloodstream fast enough leading to fluid buildup. If the lymphatic system is congested, fluid retention will also occur. This usually causes swelling in the abdomen, legs, ankles and feet.
You can avoid suffering from fluid retention but making sure you exercise regularly, avoiding sitting for too long and through weight loss among other things. A healthy lifestyle is the best way to avoid it all together.