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The Symptoms of Water Retention?

Updated on July 03, 2015

The Human body is comprised of 70% water

What is water rentention?

The human body is made up of approximately 70 to 75% water. The female body is comprised of even more water due to a variety of reasons, a couple of the main ones being their reproductive system and having a lot less muscle to fat ratio in their body composition compared to that of a man. Also commonly referred to as edema (classified into two categories, generalized and localized), generalized type meaning the water swelling takes place over the entire body and localized type meaning swelling is only produced in a particular area of the body. Water retention occurs when water leaks into your tissues by way of your blood. Your lymphatic system (removes waste in the fluids throughout your body) drains the water from the tissues of your body through the kidneys. When the fluids are not drained correctly, the water accumulates in the circulatory system, cavities and tissues of the body creating swelling or that bloated feeling. This is a sign that your body is retaining more water than it actually requires/needs.

Water retention; treatment and symptoms by MainMD.com

Excessive salt/sodium can result in water retention

Causes of water Retention

There are several different causes of water retention ranging from your diet, consuming excessive sodium, weight gain, your body's reaction to excessive hot weather, hormonal imbalance, dehydration, constipation, nutritional deficiencies and there are even some medications/drugs that can adversely affect your body into retaining more water and perpetuate the issue. There are numerous diseases and conditions that can also lead the way to retention as well, such as kidney disease or failure, problems with your liver, problems/issues with your thyroid, cardiovascular disease and even arthritis. Women are susceptible to hold more water then men and will usually experience weight changes/fluctuations during their menstruation cycle and menopause do to water being retained by their body. Ladies, if your experiencing painful cramps during that time of the month, ironically you will need to drink more water. Your body is basically cleansing itself and is in need/will retain water. You may feel a little bloated, but drinking an adequate amount of water and eating bananas (for the potassium) will alleviate the cramps/pain. For older, mature women, if during menopause you are subjected to weight fluctuations, it's more than likely due to your diminished progesterone levels. The hormonal changes in pregnant women can easily cause them to retain more water as well.

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Symptoms of Retention

There are symptoms that may raise a red flag to retention such as tenderness in the ankles, your hands, feet or face appear swollen and the skin being abnormally tight. A physical examination (blood test, urine test, liver and heart function tests) by a health care professional is required to definitively say whether or not you have retention or if it's actually the result of a hidden affliction/condition. It's pretty common for your body weight to fluctuate from water on a daily basis. Your body (depending on the person, everyone's body is different) normally retains anywhere from 5 lbs - 10 lbs of water naturally. People that are obese or severally over weight will obviously retain more water. Most women will gain water weight, that is not associated with fat during their menstrual cycle due to hormonal imbalance.


Drinking more water can alleviate retention

Treatment for Retention

Treating water retention can be relatively simple if it's from a natural cause and not from some kind of underlying health condition. If the root cause of retention is determined to be natural, then a good exercise program, decreasing your sodium/salt intake and improving your circulation will generally reduce the amount of water your body holds. Ironically, drinking too much water will also stop water retention. When your body is dehydrated or low on water, your body begins to retain water to maintain hydration and in order to protect itself. Drinking water excessively will allow your body to discard the additional water, thus alleviating the retention. If the retention is caused by some kind of underlying health affliction/condition, surgery may be necessary.

If your body is absorbing an abnormal amount of water due to a disease or condition, a health care professional must be consulted. Hypertension is directly related to water retention due to excessive fluids in your blood vessels, which affects blood pressure. Diuretics may be needed to treat severe cases. Most commonly taking place in the hands and feet, if you have swelling and think it may be related to retention, make sure you consult with and get yourself checked out by your doctor.

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    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 2 years ago from North Texas

      Very interesting and informative. I suffered serious edema when I was pregnant and lost 65 lbs giving birth. My baby was 8 lbs, 6.5 ounces. Good to know these things. Well done! Voted up and useful.

    • BirminghamVoice profile image

      Thom 17 months ago from United Kingdom

      As I am on repeat medication i have always been wary of different non prescribed medication, this article has been very useful for me as i do have some symptoms and know a lot more then i did before reading this! great article!

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