causes of edema

What Are The Causes Of Edema?

Edema is very common in the United States. It affects more than 3 million people each year.

In this article we’ll look at the common causes of this disease. We’ll also look at exactly what edema is (in plain-English with NO medical jargon!).

What Are The Causes Of Edema?

There are a number of things that can cause edema. 

It can be due to severe medical conditions. Some of the conditions known to cause edema include:

Heart Failure / Circulatory Problems

Edema can occur due to heart failure if one or both lower chambers of the heart do not pump blood properly. And because of that, blood can build up in our limbs which causes edema. 

Kidney Failure

People experiencing kidney failure or kidney disease are also likely to experience edema. That is because a person with a kidney disorder may not be able to remove enough fluid and sodium from the blood. And this results in added pressure on the blood vessels which will then cause some of the fluids to leak. The edema for people with kidney disease is often seen in their eyes and/or legs. 

Cirrhosis of the Liver

Another cause of edema is liver disease such as cirrhosis. Cirrhosis can disrupt the normal flow of secretion of hormones and fluid-regulating chemicals as well as reducing protein production. 

Similar to kidney disease, the added pressure to the blood vessels will cause it to leak. Most of the time, cirrhosis increases the pressure in the portal vein. The portal vein is a large vein that carries blood coming from the intestines. 


Allergies can also cause edema. Edema often occurs as a result of an allergic reaction. The blood vessels near the affected area would leak fluid as a response to the allergen. 

Other Causes of Edema

An extreme lack of protein in your diet can also cause edema. You may also experience mild cases of edema if you are pregnant or if you are eating foods with high amounts of sodium. 

Serious complications of pregnancy such as deep vein thrombosis can also cause edema in women. Edema can also be a side effect of certain drugs such as steroids and estrogens. Edema caused as a side effect of a medication is often mild and occurs on the leg. 

Other causes of edema include body fluid overload, skin infections and electrolyte problems.

What Is Edema?

Edema is the swelling that occurs when there is an excessive amount of fluid trapped in the tissues of the body. Most of the time this means the skin. 

This condition can cause skin to sell in many parts of our body. The most common ones are the legs, arms, ankles, feet, and lungs. 

When it doesn’t occur in the skin, edema can affect part of the body that include the following:

  • Muscles
  • Bowels
  • Lungs
  • Eyes
  • Brain

Most of the time this condition occurs in older people and pregnant women. However, that does not mean that they are the only ones who experience it. Anybody can experience having edema regardless of age. 

There are many types of this disease. And most of the time the type will depend on what body part the edema is affecting.