Water retention, or Edema, is collected fluid in the body’s tissues. If you are experiencing water retention, you will usually see swelling in the feet and legs. More uncommonly, some people experience swelling of the face, hands and arms.

There are a wide array of conditions and diseases that can cause water retention. But, the most common trigger for water retention is a salty diet. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, try to reduce your salt intake and see if the swelling goes down! Trouble in the kidneys, liver disease, heart disease, and medication side effects can also all contribute to higher water retention within the body.

Other common causes of water retention include:

  • Hypertension.
  • Burns.
  • Cancer.
  • Hepatitis.
  • Parasitic infection.
  • Venous insufficiency.
  • Recent surgery.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Enlarged lymph nodes.

Depending on the individual, water retention can be mild or severe. The mild conditions sow themselves after a salty meal. More severe conditions occur when water begins to build up in the lungs. This condition, known as pulmonary edema, can make it hard for the individual to breathe.

While swelling seems to be the most common symptom of water retention, there are other symptoms that can occur depending on the disease or condition that is causing the retention.

Some other symptoms may include:

  • Decreased body hair in swollen areas, and other areas.
  • Pain or discomfort in a swollen area.
  • Skin changes.
  • Reduced mobility.
  • Chest pain or pressure.
  • Coughing.
  • Reduced urination.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Fatigue.
  • Unconsciousness.

If you are experiencing any of the more severe symptoms (chest pain or pressure, unconsciousness, reduced urination, or breathing difficulty), consult a medical professional immediately. In rare cases, water retention can be a sign of a life threatening condition that needs immediate attention.

When consulting with your doctor, be prepared to answer the following questions:

  • What medications are you taking? Have they recently changed?
  • Tell me about your most recent meals.
  • What other symptoms are you experiencing?
  • Are you having difficulty with strenuous activity?
  • Where have you noticed the water retention?
  • When did the swelling/ water retention begin happening?
  • Are you having difficulty sleeping?
  • Do you enjoy salty foods?

Complications can occur if you do not inform your doctor of water retention. Of course, complications vary depending on the severity of the condition, and the underlying cause of water retention. Since water retention can occur due to serious medical conditions, seeing treatment is imperative. Follow any treatment plan that the medical professional deems necessary, and limit your salt intake while drinking more water.