Many people suffer from water retention in the legs, and this problem affects almost everyone. Water retention is a relatively common problem that mainly affects women. It can cause an uncomfortable feeling of heaviness, puffiness and cellulite, as well as fluid retention in the legs, thighs and buttocks. In this article, you will learn what are the causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention of this problem.

In peripheral edema, the tissues in the legs and ankles swell because water or fluid has accumulated. Legs, calves and even thighs can be affected by the swelling, which is not painful. Swelling is especially noticeable in the lower extremities of the body because of gravity.

There are simple lifestyle changes that you can make to relieve fluid retention in the legs or edema in the legs. For example, exercise, elevation, massage, compression, protection, and reducing salt intake. If you notice swelling in your legs, it could be due to water retention or edema. Edema is the result of swelling in the legs, usually in the ankles, and causes inflammation and pain. If there is no obvious reason for water retention in the legs, it can also be a much more serious problem. Therefore, you should know what causes edema and what treatment options are available.

What causes water retention in the legs?

There are a number of reasons why water may be retained, including:

1. Physical inactivity: A certain amount of physical activity regulates the fluid balance of the lymphatic system. An exercise program that prevents edema can be helpful for people who stand and sit a lot. A short walk or a few minutes of leg exercise can prevent fluid retention. Health problems that cause fluid retention can be made worse by physical inactivity.

2. Kidney problems: Normally, the kidneys filter excess fluid and waste from the body. It is possible for kidney problems to cause water retention with no visible cause. A kidney problem could cause edema. If you are unsure, it is better to consult your treating physician to rule out serious causes).

3. Heart problems: It is especially important to watch for signs of heart problems if you have other symptoms besides edema, such as pain and difficulty breathing. Water retention can also be caused by some blood pressure medications, since high blood pressure causes the heart to pump too much. Congestive heart failure often causes water retention . In decompensated heart failure Less blood in the kidneys causes fluid and water retention, which leads to swollen ankles, legs, abdomen (called edema) and weight gain.

4. Pregnancy: During pregnancy, the baby's weight can cause fluid retention in the uterus, which causes water retention in the legs. These disappear once the baby is born, which is good news.

5. Diet: A lack of protein in the diet, too much salt in the diet, or a lack of certain vitamins such as B1, B5, and B6 can cause fluid retention in the legs. Vegans, vegetarians, and people who eat a low-fat diet have a higher risk of developing edema if they eat certain diets.

6. Medications: Estrogen-containing medications, birth control pills, and hormone replacement therapy can cause water retention. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as aspirin, naproxen sodium (Aleve), or ibuprofen (Advil) are helpful in relieving pain but can cause water retention if taken in high doses. Beta-blockers, which are prescribed to treat heart problems, can also cause edema if taken.

7. Premenstrual: During the second half of the menstrual cycle, many women experience water retention. This is due to an imbalance of estrogen.

8. Inflammation: Chronic inflammation can cause a person to retain water. Inflammation releases histamine, which causes capillaries to leak, leading to long-term water retention. Inflammation can also cause other health problems such as arthritis and gout.

9. Other health conditions: There are several other health problems that can lead to water retention, such as allergic reactions, scarring of the liver , infections, and thyroid disease.

Observed Symptoms

Unexplained weight fluctuations and pain in affected parts of the body.

Within a few days or weeks, you'll gain a significant amount of weight.

When the affected area is pressed, a dent may be left on the skin for a few seconds.

How can you relieve water retention in your legs?

If you sit or stand for long periods of time or take an airplane or car ride, you may experience water retention. Increase your fluid intake and probably exercise to alleviate it. Below are some ways to relieve water retention in the legs:

  • Drinking plenty of water: Drinking enough water is one of the most important factors in preventing water retention. Drinking eight to ten glasses of water a day can flush the body and eliminate edema.

  • Taking diuretic medicines: Diuretics, sometimes called water pills, help rid your body of salt (sodium) and water. Most of these medicines help your kidneys release more sodium into your urine. The sodium helps remove water from your blood, reducing the amount of fluid that flows through your veins and arteries. Your pharmacist or doctor should be able to recommend an appropriate product for you.

  • Eating healthier: Eating foods high in B vitamins, such as spinach and kale, and whole grains can help limit water retention. Antioxidants in fresh fruits and berries can also help the body naturally eliminate excess fluid.

  • Don't lie flat: To prevent worsening retention, elevate your ankles and knees when sleeping or resting.

  • Wear support stockings: Standing for long periods of time can lead to poor circulation, which can be improved with support stockings. These are usually available at most drug stores.

  • Apply cold compresses: Place ice cubes in a zippered sandwich bag and place this ice bag on the swelling area caused by the sprain or strain to reduce swelling. Wet compresses can be too hard on the skin. Wrap the ice pack with a napkin, towel, or T-shirt. Dry ice compresses allow the ice to affect deeper body tissues than wet compresses.

  • Eat foods with diuretic properties: A number of foods are natural diuretics that cause the body to flush out excess water, such as celery, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, carrots, asparagus, and cucumbers. A diet rich in these substances and low in meat and fat can reduce water retention.

  • Be careful what you drink: Drinking alcohol, soda, coffee, or tea can make fluid retention worse. You can prevent fluid retention in your legs by replacing these drinks with water.

  • Enough exercise: Regular exercise and activity can help reduce water retention. At least 30 minutes of exercise and two to three hours of physical activity per day are recommended.
    If these measures are not effective, edema or water retention in the legs may indicate serious health problems.


You can live a healthy life if you retain water naturally. It's a common health concern. Side effects typically include feeling like you've gained weight and having clothes fit tighter than usual.
If you are concerned about your symptoms or if they come on suddenly, contact a doctor.


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