The following may help decrease edema and keep it from coming back. Before trying these self-care techniques, talk to your doctor about which ones are right for you.
Sept. 19, 2014
- Movement. Moving and using the muscles in the part of your body affected by edema may help pump the excess fluid back to your heart. Ask your doctor about exercises you can do that may reduce swelling.
- Elevation. Hold the swollen part of your body above the level of your heart several times a day. In some cases, elevating the affected body part while you sleep may be helpful.
- Massage. Stroking the affected area toward your heart using firm, but not painful, pressure may help move the excess fluid out of that area.
- Compression. If one of your limbs is affected by edema, your doctor may recommend you wear compression stockings, sleeves or gloves. These garments keep pressure on your limbs to prevent fluid from collecting in the tissue.
- Protection. Keep the affected area clean, moisturized and free from injury. Dry, cracked skin is more prone to scrapes, cuts and infection. Always wear protection on your feet if that's where the swelling typically occurs.
- Reduce salt intake. Follow your doctor's suggestions about limiting how much salt you consume. Salt can increase fluid retention and worsen edema.
- Walsh D, et al. Palliative Medicine. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2009. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed June 10, 2014.
- Sterns RH. General principles of the treatment of edema in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 2, 2014.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed June 2, 2014.
- Sterns RH. Patient information: Edema (swelling) (Beyond the Basics). http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 18, 2014.
- Barbara Woodward Lips Patient Education Center. Tips for managing your edema. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2010.
- Trayes KP, et al. Edema: Diagnosis and management. American Family Physician. 2013;88:102.