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Water Retention

Medically reviewed by C.H. Weaver M.D. Medical Editor 8/2018

  • What causes water retention?
  • What are the symptoms of water retention?
  • What is the treatment for water retention?
  • What else can I do?

What is water retention

Water retention is the buildup of excess fluid in the tissues. Water retention is typically first noticed by swelling of the extremities.

What causes water retention

There are many possible causes of water retention, including:

  • Medication
  • Heart damage
  • Liver damage
  • Kidney failure
  • Lymphedema
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What are the symptoms of water retention

Notify your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Feelings of tightness in the arm or leg
  • Decreased flexibility in a hand, elbow, wrist, fingers or leg
  • Difficulty fitting into clothing
  • Ring, wristwatch, bracelet, shoe that fits tighter than usual
  • Pain, aching, heaviness, or weakness in the arm or leg
  • Redness, swelling or signs of infection
  • Skin that feels stiff or taut
  • Pitting (small indentations left on the skin after pressing on the swollen area)

What is the treatment for water retention

Treatment for water retention depends on the cause. Your doctor may recommend medications that make you urinate more to help remove fluid. These drugs area called diuretics; an example is furosemide (Lasix®). If your swelling is due to lymphedema, your doctor may recommend of variety of physical techniques to reduce and manage your symptoms.

What else can I do

Remember to notify your doctor if you have any side effects of your treatment or symptoms that are disturbing.