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Welcome to the Topic “What is chronic oedema and what are the causes?”

What is oedema?

Oedema is the medical term for swelling caused by the accumulation of fluid in the body’s tissues.

Oedema can be:

  • acute = short term. Four examples are:1)  swelling after injury such as an ankle sprain 2) blot clots 3) swelling after any kind of surgery 4) infection.
  • chronic = long term. Four examples are: 1) swelling caused by lymphoedema 2) vein problems 3) lipoedema 4) dependent oedema (lack of muscle pump) such as after a stroke.

Oedema can occur in various parts of the body, including the legs, ankles, feet, face, and hands.

Oedema can have many causes, such as an injury or infection, but also can be due to underlying medical conditions such as heart, kidney, or liver disease, or a side effect of certain medications.

Symptoms of oedema may include skin that appears stretched or shiny, and an area that is swollen, firm, or warm to the touch.

What is chronic oedema?

Chronic oedema is a medical condition characterized by the abnormal accumulation of fluid in the body’s tissues, leading to swelling.

All forms of chronic oedema usually involve the lymphatic system becoming overwhelmed with fluid.

What causes chronic oedema?

Understanding the various factors that contribute to the fluid buildup in the body that causes swollen ankles and feet is crucial before treatment can begin.

Chronic oedema can be caused by various factors such as:

  • Dependent oedema = Standing or being sedentary in one place for a prolonged period is a frequent causes of oedema. Anyone that has been on a very long flight, with little movement i their body, may have experienced swelling. This is dependent oedema where fluid builds up because the muscles cannot adequately pump fluid out of the legs. 
  • Obesity related swelling – Being overweight is another condition that causes various ailments, including chronic oedema. Obesity can cause a type of secondary lymphoedema, as the lymphatics get physically obstructed at the groin.
  • Acute and chronic oedema may also result from a negative drug reaction. For example, taking certain blood pressure medications, birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy, antidepressants, or steroids may cause swelling.
  • Issues with the heart, liver, or kidneys can cause chronic oedema
  • Chronic infections
  • Chronic arthritis
  • Chronic pain conditions such as as chronic regional pain syndrome
  • Lymphoedema
  • Lipoedema
  • Venous problems

What is the treatment of chronic oedema?

Chronic oedema treatment differs depending on the underlying cause, particularly if that underlying cause is a medical issue. It is very important to see a Doctor if you have any signs of swelling.