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8 Ways To Get Rid of Water Retention

Why is my ring so tight today? How did I gain 3 pounds overnight? Why don’t my shoes fit?

Water retention is probably to blame.

Up to 60 percent of the human adult body is water, and water retention is when the body holds on to extra, unnecessary fluid.  

Common Causes of Water Retention

Many things can cause water retention, including some mild and serious health conditions. However, most people experience water retention from time to time. Some reasons include:

  • Dehydration

  • Obesity

  • Changes in diet or malnutrition

  • Blood pressure

  • Liver or kidney malfunction

  • Hormonal changes, including pregnancy and menstruation

  • Medications such as steroids and contraceptives

  • Allergies

Occasional swelling is not usually a cause for concern, but severe or chronic water retention can indicate an underlying problem.

Your doctor can assess extra fluid in your legs, hands or feet. These areas can appear swollen or feel possibly tender to the touch. You may also experience water retention as bloating. Your doctor may want to discuss any unexplained recent weight gain, changes in your diet and your medical history, including medications you take.

Sometimes that puffy appearance in the face or other areas of the body is just a result of too much sodium in your diet. But only your doctor can determine if your water retention is a concern (pointing to problems in the heart, liver, or kidneys), rather than just annoying (like your ring or shoes being temporarily a little too tight). Together you can discuss ways to minimize the problem.

Your doctor might use one of the following tests to assess the severity of or reasons for your water retention:

  • Blood work

  • Urinalysis

  • Liver function tests

  • Kidney function tests

  • Chest X-ray

  • Heart function tests

Tips To Minimize Water Retention

Your doctor can recommend lifestyle changes to help minimize water retention. Here are some ideas to consider:

  1. Try a low-sodium diet. Simple diet changes can make a big difference. Start by looking at the hidden high-salt culprits in your diet like canned vegetables and frozen foods.

  2. Eat more fruit. Potassium-rich fruit, especially bananas, watermelons and peaches, can help lower sodium levels, decreasing water retention.

  3. Drink more water. Drinking more water to stop retaining water might sound like counterintuitive advice, but it is easier for the body to flush out excess salt and waste when hydrated.

  4. Get moving. Regular exercise helps our circulatory system work properly, guiding fluid to the lymphatic, digestive and urinary tracts to be excreted and reduce retention.

  5. Consider dandelion root. For those interested in safe herbal remedies, speak to your doctor about using dandelion root to relieve water retention. This plant is used in traditional methods to help the body flush unwanted fluid.

  6. Wear a compression garment. Compressions socks, stockings or sleeves work by improving the blood flow to your arms and legs. This can prevent swelling from fluid buildup and even blood clots.

  7. Elevate your feet. By occasionally resting with your legs above your heart, you help fluid move out of the ankles and feet. Gentle massage while your feet are elevated can also help.

  8. Consider medication. If the lifestyle changes do not accomplish the goals you have set with your doctor, medication may be able to help. Over-the-counter diuretics aren’t recommended, because they can have harsh effects on the kidneys.

Fluids in our bodies are constantly changing, but when is it an emergency? While water retention is a common complaint, you need prompt medical attention when swelling happens and does not resolve.

You should be concerned when there is a sudden body part swelling, especially in pregnancy, as this can be a sign of a blood clot. Also, any time you experience swelling with chest pain or shortness of breath, should call 911.

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