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Water Retention: Symptoms, Causes And Prevention Health Tips

What is Water Retention?

The human body is made up mostly of water and is of course something we need to function. Water exists in our blood, organs, skin, muscles and bones.

However, when the body retains too much water, this is known as Water Retention or Oedema and leads to swelling and a feeling of discomfort. Water retention can make you feel irritable and ruin your mood.

Oedema caused by water retention can be either all over the body or in most cases, localised to certain areas such as legs, ankles, feet and face.

What are the Symptoms of Water Retention?

Some of the most common signs and symptoms of water retention are:-

  • Swollen legs, feet or ankles
  • Bloating in the abdominal region
  • A puffy face
  • Stiff or aching joints
  • Feeling heavy, bloated or sluggish
  • Fluctuations in weight

What Causes Water Retention?

There are many causes of water retention and include:-

  • Air Travel - If you are flying, you may experience water retention due to changes in cabin pressure.
  • Standing or sitting too long - If you are inactive, blood and other fluids will tend to sit in the lower parts of the body causing swelling. If you have a sedentary lifestyle, it is important to get up and move around more often.
  • Too much salt - Eating a high level of sodium or salt can cause water retention. This can be from either table salt added to your meals or when eating too much hidden salt commonly found in fast foods and microwave meals. Try and reduce your salt intake where possible.
  • Menstrual changes or hormonal fluctuations - These are another common cause of water retention.
  • Medications - Certain medications are known to promote water retention as a side effect such as chemotherapy treatments, blood pressure medication, pain relievers and antidepressants. If you are experiencing water retention check the information for any medication that you are taking.
  • Hot weather - During the hot summer periods, the body will tend to retain more water.
  • The Pill - For some people, the Pill can trigger water retention.
  • DVT - Deep Vein Thrombosis can lead to swelling in the legs.
  • Burns - Some burns including sunburn can induce fluid retention in its response to a burn.

Preventing Water Retention

One of the most important things to do in preventing or eliminating water retention is to become more active.

Living a sedentary lifestyle where you spend long hours on your feet can serve to increase fluid retention. So by getting more physical activity, you help to prevent and reduce any water retention you may have. Elevating your feet for a while can help to reduce swelling in the legs, ankles and feet.

Drinking more water can help to reduce water retention. This is because the body will retain water if it is unsure of when it will get more. So keep hydrated as much as possible. You may also want to cut back on the kinds of drinks that dehydrate you such as coffee, tea and alcohol.

As previously mentioned, a high intake of sodium/salt can lead to fluid retention. Where possible, reduce your consumption of takeaway and processed foods that tend to be high in salt. Try adding more ingredients such as herbs and spices when cooking.

Another good remedy for water retention is to add more magnesium and potassium into your diet as it will help to balance out your sodium levels. Try eating more bananas, avocados, leafy green vegetables, sweet potatoes and tomatoes.

Some studies have suggested that an increase in Vitamin B6 can help to reduce fluid retention, especially for those with premenstrual symptoms.

In most cases, water retention and the symptoms that it produces will pass once you make some simple lifestyle changes. If symptoms persist, you may wish to speak with your doctor who in some cases may prescribe diuretic medication to help you urinate more.

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