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Causes of Leg Edema

There are several factors or causes of leg edema. Besides blood vessels, water can be found in interstitial spaces between body tissues and in the cells. Edema is a health condition wherein there is accumulation and retention of excess water in some body parts. Water retention causes swelling in afflicted area. Often, arms, hands, legs, ankles and feet are affected due to water retention. This condition can affect other organs like peritoneal cavity of chest or abdomen. In pulmonary edema, water accumulates in lungs. In medical terms, swelling of legs because of water retention is called peripheral edema. The following lines give information on the leg edema causes.

Causes of Leg Edema:
Following are the various leg edema causes:

  • Heart disease afflicts the pumping capacity that in turn interrupts the flow and pressure of blood. It leads to seepage of watery plasma from blood vessels to interstitial spaces between leg tissues where it gets accumulated and triggers swelling.
  • In people with malnutrition, for distribution and transportation of proteins in cell nourishing blood, body may opt to lose the watery part that is plasma to interstitial spaces leading to leg edema. The liver and thyroid diseases can precipitate edema by afflicting protein concentration in blood.
  • The blood flows to active body parts during exercise for feeding the muscles. This muscular contractions and relaxations aid in blood flow. The more amount of blood is supplied to these muscles if they are left inactive for a longer period. This gets accumulated resulting in seepage of edema and plasma.
  • Sitting or standing for a long period affects the blood movement in leg. This is one of the causes of leg edema.
  • In some cases, the lymph which flows through lymphatic system may be obstructed and can get accumulated. This condition is called lymphedema. This is one of the causes of leg edema. For this condition, lymphedema compression garments are very effective.
  • Allergies to insect stings or chemicals can cause leg edema. In these situations, your body tries to fight the changes by secreting histamine and by mobilizing immune system cells. This results in swelling of legs.
    Some kinds of chemicals like pain relievers, steroids, drugs used for controlling blood pressure and drugs used for replacing hormones can trigger edema.
  • Diseases that drastically affect kidney functioning can cause fluid retention in body.
  • Internal bleeding can also cause leg edema.
  • Ankle edema causes swelling in feet, ankles and toes in pregnant women.
  • In some health conditions, varicose veins in leg may become enlarged and painful, resulting in lower leg swelling.
  • Clotting of blood can obstruct blood flow in legs, resulting in fluid accumulation in legs.
  • Baker’s cyst, cellulitis and hereditary angioedema are other causes of leg edema.

Symptoms of Leg Edema:
Following are the common symptoms of leg edema:

  • Shiny skin in affected part
  • Loss or gain of weight
  • High blood pressure
  • Stiff joints
  • Swelling of skin

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