Edema

Edema is the abnormal buildup of fluid in a part of the body, which can cause swelling and pain.

Some causes of edema include:

  • Inactivity. Swelling of the ankles during a long airplane trip is an example of edema caused by inactivity.
  • Diseases such as heart failure. If the left side of the heart is damaged, it can cause fluid to build up in the lungs (pulmonary edema).
  • Blood clots that stop the flow of blood through a blood vessel. This causes blood to pool behind the clot.
  • Infection. The body often fights an infection by increasing blood flow to the area, which can result in edema.

The treatment for edema depends on the cause.

Last Updated: March 2, 2010

Author: Kathleen M. Ariss, MS

Medical Review: Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine

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