Types of edema (based on its main causes and symptoms)

It’s common to hear older people with circulation problems say they have water retention in their legs. If observed, they appear swollen and inflamed, as if they are partially filled with water.

The same sometimes happens after a burn, after surgery, if we have liver, heart or metabolic disease or simply after a long period of rest and exercise at high temperatures.

This swelling is called edema and can have different types of origins. There are several types of edema, the main ones will be explored in this article.

    What is edema?

    Edema is the swelling of soft tissues caused by the presence of fluid buildup in them.. Also known as water retention, this swelling can appear for a variety of causes, from the existence of a metabolic, hepatic or cardiovascular problem to excessive temperature when exerting great effort or standing or sitting for too long, drinking drug or the absence or excess of nutrients. It should be noted that it can still appear for harmless causes can be a sign that may indicate the presence of a disorder or disease.

    Symptoms vary depending on the cause, although it is common to see fatigue, discomfort or tingling, difficulty moving, and reduced urine output (which is why in many cases, the associated treatment causes a dramatic increase in the desire to urinate).

    the causes

    What causes swelling is an imbalance in the interstitial fluid. This fluid is what bathes the space between the cells in our body and allows the cells to receive nutrients while removing waste. This fluid is constantly moving in and out of our cells, maintaining a balance between the amount of fluid inside and outside the cells. Sometimes they can produce imbalances that cause interstitial fluid to build up in white tissue, producing edema.

    Edemas can be grouped and classified according to various criteria. The most common refer to the level of generalization of the edema and the location of its origin or etiology.

    Types of edema according to the level of generalization

    One way to classify edema is whether the water retention is widespread throughout the body or located in a specific area. In this aspect, the existence of two basic typologies can be considered.

    1. Localized or local edema

    It is the most common type of edema and the easiest to see. In them, the presence of fluid is localized in certain points of the body, which are generally affected by some type of venous or lymphatic problem, such as a thrombus for example.

    Some of the more common local edema subtypes are as follows.

    1.1. peripheral edema

    This is the type of edema that is found in the extremities. They can have different causes, such as circulatory problems.

    1.2. brain edema

    Edema in the brain can be very dangerous, as it can cause drowning or compression of neural tissue. The effects can vary widely, but the presence of dizziness, headaches, problems with memory and concentration, and nausea are not uncommon and can lead to death in some cases.

    1.3. pulmonary edema

    Edema dangerous at the same time as relatively frequentThese types of edemas absorb the lungs of those who have them and usually cause symptoms such as weakness, fatigue or suffocation. It often appears in response to problems with the blood supply.

    1.4. macular edema

    Produced in or around the eye, it can be more or less severe depending on where it appears and if it causes pressure in the eyeball.

    1.5. Angioedema

    Edema produced in mucous membranes and skin. It is usually caused by allergic reactions.

    2. Generalized edema

    This type of edema is rarer to see and usually has a cause that affects the whole body. The swelling is generalized. Within this group we can find different subtypes, which tell us where the cause of the swelling is coming from.

    2.1. heart edema

    This type of edema is what happens in the heart, And that poses a high danger if left untreated as it can lead to death. It is common for blood volume to drop, venous pressure to rise, and heart rate problems, such as tachycardia or bradycardia, to occur.

    2.2. edema deficiency

    This type of edema is caused by the lack of nutrients due to malnutrition, Poor metabolism or excessive emission or expulsion of components from the body. For example, due to anemia or the release of excess minerals in the urine

    2.3. renal edema

    Caused by difficulty filtering blood and passing urine. It often occurs in the so-called acute nephritic syndrome, in which, in addition, dark urine usually appears due to the presence of blood.

    2.4. cirrhotic edema

    This type of edema is mainly due to liver problems. Swelling and buildup occurs in the peritoneum. It is sometimes accompanied by jaundice.

    2.5. idiopathic edema

    This edema is linked to the presence of hormonal problems.

    Type of edema according to its origin

    In addition to its level of generalization in the body, other types of edema may also be observed, for example if the condition is caused by lymphatic alterations or the presence of vascular alterations or blood pressure or composition.

    3. Lymphatic edema

    Types of edema caused by causes and alterations related to the lymphatic system are considered such. In them are the main ones, in which there are birth defects in the lymphatic system and usually affect the limbs, or the secondary ones in cases where damage acquired in them occurs.

    The latter can be the effect of surgeries such as those for resecting tumors of the lymphatic system, or in the event of burns, blows or infections leading to the destruction or hypofunction of a glass.

    4. Dynamic edema

    This group of edemas includes edemas in which the lymphatic system does not present any alterations but in which an excess of fluid is perceived caused by systems or situations in which the limbic system is not directly involved.

    These include venous edema resulting from thrombi or problems in the blood vessels, those caused by strokes that cause inflammation, medications, gestation in which the mother may have inflammation due to varicose veins and hormones during pregnancy. pregnancy, postpartum, that produced by surgeries (in which the lymphatic system itself is not altered), impairments or some of the general shortcomings.

    Bibliographical references:

    • Cecil, R. (2015). Medicine Cecil (24th ed.). Philadelphia, Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.
    • Kasper, D. (2015). Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine (19th ed.). New York, New York: McGraw-Hill, medical pub. Division.
    • Renkin, EM (1994) Cellular aspects of transvascular exchange: a 40-year perspective. Microcirculation 1 (3): 157-67.

    Leave a Comment