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Water and Fluid Retention in Your Legs

Here are some effective treatment options to reduce water retention in your legs.
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Water & Fluid retention, also known as edema, is a medical condition caused by abnormal accumulation of water or fluids in the body’s tissues. Though excess water can be accumulated anywhere in the body, the most common areas are the ankles and legs.

You must ensure that this water retention is not caused by any other medical condition such as heart or kidney complication. If so, edema symptoms can be relieved by treating that particular condition. 

After these problems are ruled out, you may try some home remedies and diuretics to alleviate your edema symptoms. Here are a few simple things you can do to control fluid retention in legs. 

Pedal edema or water retention in the legs usually presents with soft and swollen ankles.

Since the ankle is a joint linking the foot to the upper leg, it has an extensive network of blood vessels running through it. When some of these vessels are constricted, blood flow is restricted in the leg and edema quickly results.

When the blood vessels get constricted, they usually swell up and their walls become permeable. This leads to leakage of fluids into the extracellular spaces.

The hydrostatic pressure (pressure due to water) in the tissue rises sharply just as the oncotic pressure (pressure due to plasma proteins) falls in the blood vessels and rises in the tissues.

If the lymphatic system is inefficient, then water is retained in the tissues instead of being drained away to the lymph nodes.

This form of pedal edema can be complicated if certain water-loving compounds are also deposited in the tissues. These hydrophilic compounds are carbohydrate-like and they swell up when they absorb water.

Exercises for Edema 

Your body requires enough exercise to promote healthy circulation and maintain fluid regulation in the tissues. 

When there is little or no exercise, the lower extremities are at risk because they have naturally poor circulation. So, consider exercising 30 minutes daily to reduce water retention in legs. 

You do not need strenuous exercises to reduce edema in your legs. Simple, regular exercises are appropriate, and you should take a few minutes of rest while exercising to prevent the development of exercise-induced edema.

Instead of investing in expensive exercise equipment, you will do better with a pair of comfortable running shoes and a dedicated exercise partner.

You should also consider leg massages to help reduce water retention in your legs.

If your pedal edema is moderate to severe, then you will be best served by a trained Compression Stockings Help Reduce Fluid Retention in Legs 

Many times the compression stockings are marketed as being for diabetics, because diabetic people are prone to severe edema. 

These socks improve circulation and reduce swelling in the legs where conventional socks may even worsen the problem by restricting circulation. 

Compression stockings exert graduated pressure on the legs and can help get rid of water retention in the legs. The highest pressure is produced at the ankles since most pedal edemas result from reduced blood flow caused by constricted blood vessels at the ankles.

There are different types of compression stockings with each type producing varying amount of pressure.

The non-prescription compression stockings provide the least pressure which is below 20 mmHg. They are intended for treating mild edema.

Prescription compression stockings provide even greater pressure. Before prescribing them, a doctor needs to calculate the ABI or Ankle Brachial Index for each leg.

When the ABI value is less than 1.0, compression stockings are not recommended since the pressure exerted can block blood flow in the arteries running through the ankles.

Elevate Your Feet 

Elevate your feet above with the help of a pillow while relaxing at home. Try this at least once a day for 5-10 minutes. This will encourage excess fluid to drain out of your legs and improve the circulation. 

For further elevation, you may use leg wedges, which will keep your feet and legs raised while you sleep. 

You must also stick to a healthy, low-sodium diet which is high in fiber and drink plenty of water to further fight water retention in legs. The above home remedies can help expedite the healing process and raise your comfort level. 

Drugs for Edema

Diuretics are the major drugs used in treating water and fluid retention in the legs.

They work by preventing the reabsorption or water in the kidneys. This leads to increased urine production and a quick reduction in the amount of water retained in the body.

There are 3 major classes of diuretics used in treating pedal edema. These are loop diuretics, thiazide diuretics and potassium-sparing diuretics.

Each of these classes of diuretics has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Loop diuretics, for example, are very effective. They are also the most popular diuretics and are especially recommended for edema patients who also suffer from renal impairment, liver cirrhosis, heart failure or nephrotic syndrome.

However, loop diuretics flush away potassium and calcium along with sodium and water. Therefore, they may cause side effects related to low levels of potassium and calcium. For this reason, potassium supplements are recommended to be taken along with loop diuretics.

Thiazide diuretics are also effective. They are sometimes even combined with loop diuretics to increase the rate at which water is removed from the body. However, thiazide diuretics promote potassium loss as well.

They also cause the accumulation of uric acid and can interfere with proper glucose control. Therefore, thiazides are not recommended for edema patients with gout or diabetes. They are also not recommended for pregnant women.

Potassium-sparing diuretics differ from the other types of diuretics simply because they do not inhibit the reabsorption of potassium. Therefore, they are recommended for patients who have a high risk of hypokalemia. However, they may also cause hyperkalemia.

For those who prefer natural remedies, some herbs also have diuretic properties.  Examples of such herbs include dandelion, ginkgo biloba and horse chestnut.

For more information regarding edema and its treatment methods, read these articles: Reduce Swelling in Feet, Salt and Edema, and Drugs For Edema.

Next Article: Edema Treatment for Legs & Lower Legs


Capisette helps with reducing swelling and reducing edema by providing your body with the electrolytes needed to restore proper fluid tranfer in your cells. It then gets rid of excess fluid with natural diuretics.