• Julia Cheung

Are You Fat or Having Edema?

Julia Cheung, HK BioTek Intern

Many people will choose to lose weight once they realize that their weights increase, or they look fatter. However, some says that they are having edema and not really being fat. Then how do you know if you are being fat or having edema? What is edema? Let’s learn more about it together! What Is Edema? In human body, fluid balance is usually maintained between tissues and bloodstream. However, when excess fluid leaks into tissues from blood vessels, the fluid will build up and squeeze the blood vessels and skin, leading to swelling of tissues and skin and increasing blood pressure. This is called “edema”. What Causes Edema? There are many different causes of edema. It is usually caused by factors not related to diseases like body constitution and diet. Nevertheless, edema can be caused by many diseases. The causes of edema are as below: · Body constitution: Sitting or standing for a long time can lead to poor blood circulation and thus leg edema, or it may be due to consumption of food that is heavily salted; some women may have edema during their menstrual cycles. · Thrombosis: Deep vein thrombosis is the formation of a blood clot in a deep vein, causing blood flow being obstructed and thus leg edema. · Lymphedema: A blockage in lymphatic system can prevent lymph fluid from draining well, leading to the build-up of fluid and swelling. · Malnutrition: Low protein level can lead to decreasing proteins in capillaries and a greater concentration gradient across capillaries, and thus the fluid leaks into tissues and causes swelling. · Medications: Medications like some antihypertensive drugs, steroid drugs, non- steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and estrogen may cause edema. · Heart failure: When the heart is unable to pump sufficiently to maintain blood flow and meet body tissues’ needs for metabolism, swelling will occur. · Liver cirrhosis: When the liver is unable to produce albumin, the osmotic pressure in capillaries will be lower. There will then be leg edema. · Kidney disease: High amounts of protein in urine can lead to a low level of albumin in blood and thus whole-body edema, or it may be due to the kidney being unable to maintain fluid and electrolyte balance.

How to Relieve Edema?

Edema caused by factors not related to diseases like body constitution and diet is temporary and mild. This can be improved by changing eating habits and lifestyle. If you want to solve the problem of edema promptly, you can eat the following food:

- Cucumber: It contains potassium and has a diuretic effect, so it can help to remove excess water from the body and relieve edema.

- Winter melon: It is high in potassium and low in sodium, so it can help to remove excess water from the body and relieve edema.

- Celery: It contains potassium, so it can help to remove excess water from the body and prevent fluid from building up in tissues.

- Kelp: It contains iodine and potassium, which can help to stimulate lipid metabolism in blood and remove excess water from the body.

- Red bean: It contains potassium and has a diuretic effect while not causing hypokalemia.

- Pearl barley: It contains potassium and magnesium, so it can help to urinate and maintain fluid balance in the body.

However, edema caused by diseases is long-term and more severe. In addition to edema, there may also be other problems like foamy urine, jaundice and breathing difficulties.

Therefore, when you have edema, judge whether it is caused by diseases first. If it is caused by diseases and it is severe, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.


1. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/oedema/

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279409/

3. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2005/0601/p2111.html

4. https://www.stlukes-stl.com/health-content/medicine/33/000055.htm

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