Edema is swelling caused by excess fluid trapped in your body's tissues. Although edema can affect any part of your body, it's most commonly noticed in the hands, arms, feet, ankles and legs. Edema can be the result of medication, pregnancy or an underlying disease — often heart failure, kidney disease or cirrhosis of the liver.
Edema is a normal response of the body to inflammation or injury. For example, a twisted ankle, a bee sting, or a skin infection will all result in edema in the involved area. In some cases, such as in an infection, this may be beneficial. Increased fluid from the blood vessels allows more infection-fighting white blood cells to enter the affected area.
Signs and symptoms of edema include Swelling or puffiness of the tissue directly under your skin, stretched or shiny skin, skin that retains a dimple after being pressed for several seconds, increased abdominal size.
Mild edema usually goes away on its own, particularly if you help things along by raising the affected limb higher than your heart. More severe edema may be treated with drugs that help your body expel excess fluid in the form of urine (diuretics). One of the most common diuretics is furosemide (Lasix). Long-term management typically focuses on treating the underlying cause of the swelling. If edema occurs as a result of medication use, your doctor may adjust your prescription or check for an alternative medication that doesn't cause edema.