Diabetes and Water Retention - 7 Ways to Deal With It

Fluid retention, also known as edema, is a problem that affects many diabetics, especially those with type 2 diabetes. Water retention can occur in any part of the legs, including the feet, ankles, calves, and thighs.

There are several reasons why edema occurs, such as fluid buildup or from inflammation in injured or diseased tissue and joints.

Types of Edema

There are three types of diabetes-related fluid retention:

  • The first type is called macular edema. Macular edema is a swelling that occurs in the macular, which is near the center of the retina. The retina is responsible for a number of duties such as the ability to read, daytime vision and color reception. Macular edema can cause diabetic retinopathy, which starts with the leaking of fluid from blood vessels into the macula. If not treated, this condition can blind a person.
  • Pulmonary edema is the second type of fluid retention, which occurs if someone is using certain diabetic medications and if the person has cardiovascular problems. This type of edema can be treated inserting a catheter that drains the fluids.
  • Foot and leg edema is the third type of edema and is also the most commonly discussed. Edema in the legs and feet can cause a high risk of non-healing wounds in diabetics. This type of edema is usually treated with manual decongestive therapy and diuretics.

Medication Risks for Edema

People who take thiazolidinedione medications are known to experience water retention. Thiazolidinediones are commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes as they help the body produce more insulin. However, one of the downsides of this medication is that it can lead to weight gain and edema.

Preventing and Treating Edema

Edema can have a lot of harmful effects if not treated like loss of vision. One of the main ways to stop fluid retention is by keeping your diabetes under control. Occasionally, if the fluid retention is being caused by medication, a change of prescription might be necessary. Having routine screenings can help detect the problem before it becomes more serious.

When the swelling occurs in your ankles or legs, there are many things that you can do to alleviate the symptoms:

  1. Try to prop your feet above your heart to help lessen the swelling. You can use pillows to elevate your feet.
  2. Wear support stockings if you have to be on your feet for extended periods of time.
  3. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to help flush unnecessary fluids from your body.
  4. Consult your doctor about taking diuretics to help your body get rid of excess fluid.
  5. Exercise can also help with water retention. Light exercises like walking, leg lifts and other similar isometric exercises can help with water retention.
  6. Limit your salt and sodium intake, as this can add to water retention
  7. Avoid standing on your feet for prolonged periods of time.

Sources: Mayo Clinic and Diabetic Live
Photo: Pexels

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