Help! I’m retaining water
Posted on 6 May 2016
At some point in every woman’s life, water retention is a real concern, causing puffiness and bloating. But what happens when water retention isn’t just a sign of that time of the month? Dr Lawrence Archer, a GP supporting Mediclinic Newcastle, advises…
What does retaining water mean?
Oedema, commonly termed ‘water retention’, happens when fluid collects in the body – usually in the lower extremities like the hands, feet, ankles and legs, but can also be seen in the face and back. This can be a side effect of certain medication, or can indicate an underlying medical condition like cardiac, kidney, liver disease, an endocrine or metabolic problem, or local causes like varicose veins.
What can I do to manage my tendency to retain water?
Don’t stop drinking water unless you have been fluid restricted by a medical specialist – your body still needs up to two litres of water a day to function optimally. In some cases – like when it’s that time of the month – you may just have to wait it out. Otherwise, as a first-line intervention, try to avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time and exercise as often as you can, at a level you’re comfortable with. If you can, try to elevate your feet above the level of your heart by resting them on a stack of cushions, or by lying on the floor and resting your feet high up on a wall for a few minutes every day. For those with lymph oedema, massage helps shift the fluid, and you could also try watching what you eat: eat a healthy balanced diet, limit your salt intake and include foods that are natural diuretics like asparagus and green tea.
What if the puffiness won’t go away?
Get to a doctor, who will check for any underlying medical conditions and prescribe treatment that suits you.