Edema sounds like an ominous name for an ailment. But in reality, edema is simply the medical term for swelling. It is caused by the retention of excess fluid in a certain part of the body. While swelling caused by the build-up of fluid is painless or merely uncomfortable at most, swelling that is caused by inflammation is unpleasantly painful and is a result of your body’s reaction to a more dangerous illness. If such is the case, a doctor should be visited.
In pregnancy, it is not uncommon to experience a bit of swelling in certain parts of the body. Swelling could occur and are more apparent in your hands, face, feet, and ankles. It is most apparent in the third trimester of your pregnancy. The edema in this period is usually caused by high levels of sodium in your body, causing an imbalance of fluids. Other than that, factors that affect swelling could be high levels of caffeine intake, low potassium levels, heat, and being too active.
Though they may bring about mild or significant discomfort, edemas in pregnancy are hardly anything to worry about. Swelling is a completely normal part of pregnancy that is caused by the increase of fluid in certain parts of the body. This is needed to soften your skin so it can easily expand as the baby develops. But then again, it is important to listen to what your body is telling you. If the discomfort turns to pain, it could be an inflammation or something could be disrupting the healthy development of the baby.
How to reduce swelling in feet and legs during pregnancy
If you are looking for ways to make the discomfort brought by your edema to be more tolerable, here are a few simple ways:
Stay in a comfortable position. Your feet must be kept elevated so they are higher than your head level. You may sleep in any position; just not your stomach for obvious reasons such as applying excess pressure to your belly, which can cause further discomforts and complications in the long run.
Submerge your feet in the ankle-deep hot water. This is a common remedy to reduce swelling in most cases. Fill a basin with hot water, and put your feet in it. The water doesn’t have to be too hot. The suggested preparation is to boil four mugs of hot water and pour it in the basin. Afterward, pour two glasses of cold water (refrigerated four hours prior) to douse the heat. The resulting temperature should be just right.
Drink lots of water. This will hardly affect the retention of excess fluid in your body. In fact, most of the water you drink will be passed on as urine. The purpose of this is to lower the levels of sodium in your body to ease the swelling.
A proper diet always helps in any situation. Adding a few more fiber into your diet aids in the elimination of wastes cleanses your body of excess fluids, reduces swelling.
Commit to exercise. When combined with a proper diet, they are a very healthy combination for you and your baby. Not only that, it also improves your well-being and helps you stay in shape even after the pregnancy. Remember that exercises have to be light, just enough to get you sweating and remove the excess fluid that causes edema.
Why should swollen in pregnancy be a concern
If you are concerned about the swelling, here are other cases when it could be something more dangerous:
When it becomes too painful. Discomforts are often mistaken as pain. But when you are certain that is causing your body significant distress, this could be a sign of a more serious illness. If this is accompanied by fever and sweating, inflammation could be your first culprit. Do not leave it untreated and contact the doctor immediately. This could be a result of allergic reactions in your body brought by the changes during pregnancy, a further build-up of excess fluid to dangerous amounts, or an infection.
When it is accompanied by a variety of other symptoms. This includes the abnormal gain in body mass, high blood pressure, and proteinuria (this is an ailment characterized by an excessive amount of protein in the urine). If this is the case, then you are dealing with preeclampsia. While it might at first invade you stealthily with no apparent symptoms, it is actually a sign of an impaired organ, most especially the kidneys. When left untreated, this could lead to serious complications for your health, and may even lead to miscarriage or stillbirth. As such, when you notice abnormal changes in your body, it is best to call your doctor. The most accurate way to detect preeclampsia is through a urine examination.
When the discomfort or pain is more significant in the chest area, accompanied by difficulty in breathing. This could mean that the excess fluid that caused edema, which includes blood, is more apparent in the heart area. This could lead to tightening of significant veins close to your heart, which in turn leads to more serious heart problems.
When it is imbalanced. When your foot swells more significantly than the other, then this could be a sign of blood clot. While it is a friendly function of your body to prevent blood loss, it could lead to serious complications called venous thromboembolism. There are two types: Pulmonary Embolism (PE) and deep vein thrombosis. While these are highly preventable, they can also be life-threatening and deadly.
Blood clots can also occur in the placenta. It squeezes the veins and cuts of the blood flow and oxygen supply to your baby.