What is it?

Edema is the swelling of a certain body part due to the accumulation of water and salts. It is typically a symptom of a different condition. Edema is usually localized and affects the legs or the arms, but it can affect any part of the body. On the other hand, edema can be generalized, meaning the whole body swells. This condition is called "extreme generalized edema" or "anasarca". Causes of edema are many, including injury, diet, menstruation, pregnancy, dehydration or overhydration, certain medications, and health conditions. Anasarca usually indicates a more severe disease, such as liver failure, kidney failure, heart failure, severe malnutrition, or serious allergic reaction. Anasarca can be an emergency and should be examined thoroughly.

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Additional names

This group contains additional names:
- Swelling

Signs & symptoms

Symptoms of localized edema may include:
- Swelling of one or more body parts (usually lower extremities).
- A discomfort in the swollen area.
- Difficulty in moving the swollen area.
Symptoms of anasarca include:
- Generalized swelling of the whole body.
- High or low blood pressure.
- Fast or slow heart rate.
- A sense of discomfort and difficulty to move at all.
- Difficulty breathing.
- chest pain.


Diagnosis is made by questioning and investigating the medical history and physical examination to provide additional information and define the cause. Further tests include:
- Blood testing.
- CT or MRI scans.
- Heart testing – including EKG, ultrasound, and stress test.
- Allergy tests.


Treatment of edema and anasarca depends on the underlying condition. Usually, once the underlying cause is treated, the swelling resolves as well. In addition, some medications (called diuretics) target the accumulation of water and salts in the body tissues and help the body remove the excess fluid through the urine.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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