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What is Edema?

Edema is swelling, often in the feet, ankles, and legs, caused by retention of fluid. It may accompany illnesses that require patients to receive large amounts of IV fluid.

Edema is very common. It is seen most in adults over the age of 65 and pregnant women.

What Is the Difference between Edema and Lymphedema?

Edema can refer to short-term or long-term acute swelling in the body.

Lymphedema is a chronic, severe condition of long-term edema.

Symptoms of Edema

  • Pain, redness at site of swelling
  • Shortness of breath

What Causes Edema?

  • Spending a lot of time sitting or standing
  • Venous insufficiency
  • Underlying medical conditions
  • Medications
  • Poor nutrition
  • Pregnancy
  • Compromised immune system

UR Medicine's Treatments for Edema

How is Edema Diagnosed?

Your UR Medicine provider will give you a physical exam, followed by diagnostic tests such as:

At UR Medicine, we have an advanced, accredited noninvasive vascular laboratory. Here we perform noninvasive evaluations and diagnoses of the veins and arteries in your arms, legs, head and stomach. These tests are critical to an accurate diagnosis and, ultimately, the best plan of treatment.

How is Edema Treated?

Edema is treated based on the underlying cause. Treatment for the swelling may include:

  • Elevating the legs when seated
  • Compression stockings
  • Diuretics (water pills)
  • Removing excess salt from diet

The UR Medicine Occupational Therapy (OT) lymphedema program offers a 4-step treatment for edema. The program includes:

  • Skin care
  • Exercise
  • Compression
  • Manual lymphatic drainage (in the clinic and at home)

What Sets Us Apart?

UR Medicine Cardiac Care leads the region in the number and scope of specialized services offered. We are home to the only heart failure, heart transplant, and cardio-oncology programs in the region. These and many other specialty programs bring the very latest treatment for a wide range of cardiac care issues close to home.

Our dozens of occupational therapists at UR Medicine cover a full range of specialties, so patients get care from practitioners with expertise in edema treatments. We are recognized as a quality leader, earning a three-star (the highest) rating from the Vascular Quality Initiative. Our program remains at the forefront in the medical management of vascular patients, long-term follow-up strategy, and tracking the outcomes of treatment.

As the region’s only academic medical center, we have exceptionally high standards that help ensure the best results for our patients. Our experts use state-of-the-art technology to identify heart disease and offer treatments and strategies to maximize heart health. Whether you need to control your high blood pressure or seek specialized care for an unusual heart condition, we have the expertise for you.

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