Your symptoms will depend on the amount of swelling you have and where you have it.
Edema in a small area from an infection or inflammation (like a mosquito bite) may cause no symptoms. On the other hand, a large allergic reaction (such as from a bee sting) may cause edema on your entire arm that can bring pain and limit your arm’s movement.
Food allergies and allergic reactions to medicine may cause tongue or throat edema. This can be life-threatening if it interferes with your breathing.
Leg edema can make the legs feel heavy. This can affect walking. In edema and heart disease, for example, the legs may easily weigh an extra 5 or 10 pounds each. Severe leg edema can interfere with blood flow, leading to ulcers on the skin.
Pulmonary edema causes shortness of breath and sometimes low oxygen levels in the blood. Some people with pulmonary edema may have a cough.
There may be an indent or a “pit” that remains for a while after you push on the skin in some types of edema. This is called pitting edema. If the tissue springs back to its normal shape, it’s called non-pitting edema. It’s a symptom that may help your doctor figure out the cause of your edema.
Treatment of Edema
To treat edema, you often must treat its underlying cause. For example, you might take allergy medications to treat swelling from allergies.
Edema from a block in fluid drainage can sometimes be treated by getting the drainage flowing again. A blood clot in the leg is treated with blood thinners. They break down the clot and get drainage back to normal. A tumor that blocks blood or lymph can sometimes be shrunk or removed with surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation.
Leg edema related to congestive heart failure or liver disease can be treated with a diuretic (sometimes called a ”water pill”) like furosemide (Lasix). When you can pee more, fluid from the legs can flow back into the blood. Limiting how much sodium you eat can also help.