What Is Water Retention ? | Water Retention – Causes , Symptoms & Treatments
Water retention is one of the most common problems found in men and women and is a recurring health problem if not treated well. The reasons for water retention can be way more than one and if not treated, it can put you at a bigger health risk in the long run. Water forms up to 70 percent of the total body weight. Its presence is everywhere including your muscles, blood, organs and even your bones. However, when the body starts retaining more water than required, it leads to edema or water retention. This excess water causes your body to swell up.
Causes of water retention :
A complex system of hormones and hormone-like substances called prostaglandins are used by the human body to regulate water levels. This means that excess water can be excreted quickly from the kidneys in the form of urine. Likewise, drinking less fluid means that less urine will be produced.
Water retention can occur due to changes in this regulatory system, or a range of other triggers.
Water retention is possible when the pressure inside blood vessels changes.
Fluid rich in nutrients, vitamins, and oxygen continuously passes from tiny blood vessels into surrounding tissues. This fluid is known as interstitial fluid.
Interstitial fluid nourishes cells and eventually makes its way back to the capillaries. Water retention may occur if the pressure inside the capillaries changes.
Water retention is also possible if the capillary walls become too leaky. If something goes wrong with pressure or the wall becomes too leaky, excess liquid will be released into the spaces between cells.
If too much fluid is released, more of it will remain in the tissues, rather than returning to the capillaries, resulting in swelling and water retention.
The lymphatic system
The lymphatic system drains a fluid called lymph from tissues and empties it back into the bloodstream. However, if too much fluid is released in the first place, the lymphatic system can become overwhelmed. It is unable to return fluid fast enough, and this builds up around the tissues.
Sometimes, if the lymphatic system is congested, the rate at which fluid is returned to the bloodstream may change. This means that fluid might remain in the tissues, causing swelling in various parts of the body, including the abdomen, ankles, legs, and feet.
Normal pressure within blood vessels is partly maintained by the pumping force of the heart. However, if the heart starts to fail, there will be a change in blood pressure, which often results in serious water retention.
Typically, the legs, feet, and ankles will swell. Fluid will also build up in the lungs, giving the patient a long-term cough or breathing difficulties.
Congestive heart failure can eventually cause breathing problems, as well as excessive stress on the heart.
Blood is filtered through the kidneys. Waste, fluids, and other substances are extracted and cross into tiny tubules. From there, the bloodstream reabsorbs anything the body can reuse. Any waste is excreted in urine.
In most cases, kidneys can eliminate all waste materials that the body produces. However, if the blood flow to the kidneys is affected, problems can occur. For instance, in kidney failure, waste material, including fluids, cannot be eliminated from the body properly, resulting in fluid retention.
The weight of the uterus on the major veins of the pelvis can cause a buildup of fluid in the body during pregnancy. In most cases, it is nothing to worry about and generally resolves after the baby is born.
man sitting on a sofa watching television
Physical inactivity can sometimes cause water retention.
Exercise helps the leg veins return blood to the heart. If the blood does not circulate often enough, it will begin to accumulate in the legs, causing higher pressure in the capillaries.
This higher pressure means that fluid will leave the capillaries at a faster rate. The increased pressure also makes it harder for fluids to come back later on.
Exercise is necessary to stimulate the lymphatic system to carry out its function of regulating overflow, bringing fluids back into the bloodstream at rates that may regulate body water levels. Very long periods of physical inactivity, such as a long-haul flight, increase the risk of water retention.
Humans require a certain level of proteins for effective water balance. An individual with severe protein deficiency may find it harder to get the water from the tissue spaces back into the capillaries. The enlarged abdomen of someone who is starving is mainly caused by a lack of protein in their diet.
Symptoms of water retention :
1.bloating, especially in the abdominal area
2.swollen legs, feet, and ankles
3.puffiness of the abdomen, face, and hips
6.indentations in the skin, similar to what you see on your fingers when you’ve 7.been in the bath or shower a long time
Some Important Tips To Reduce Water Retention :
1. Eat Less Salt
Salt is made of sodium and chloride.
Sodium binds to water in the body and helps maintain the balance of fluids both inside and outside of cells.
If you often eat meals that are high in salt, such as many processed foods, your body may retain water. These foods are actually the biggest dietary source of sodium.
The most common advice for reducing water retention is to decrease sodium intake. However, the evidence behind this is mixed.
Several studies have found that increased sodium intake leads to increased retention of fluid inside the body .
On the other hand, one study of healthy men found that increased sodium intake did not cause body fluid retention, so this may depend on the individual .
2. Check your thyroid
An underactive thyroid gland is a common cause of fluid retention. It can also cause dry skin, fatigue, low mood, scalp hair loss and weight gain. All extremely common symptoms. The most common cause of an underactive thyroid gland is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This is an autoimmune disease and is actually the most common autoimmune disease in the world. Mild cases of hypothyroidism often go undiagnosed for some time. If you suffer with the symptoms I’ve mentioned, please see your doctor for a thyroid blood test. You can also learn much more in our book Your Thyroid Problems Solved and you can learn about autoimmune problems here. Thyroid Health capsules are an ideal way to support your thyroid gland.
3.Avoid dehydrating drinks such as alcohol and caffeine
Intake of too much of alcohol and caffeine dehydrates the body. When your body is dehydrated, it begins to retain water.
4.Drink more water
This may sound strange but drinking more water could solve the water retention problem. If you are dehydrated, your body reacts by storing water so that it can cope with what it sees as a dry spell. Drinking more water also has the added benefit of helping you excrete more salt from your body. Ensure that you drink at least 8 cups of water every day.
5.Take adequate amounts of magnesium
Scientific studies have shown that women with PMS related water retention experience relief from water retention when they take supplemental magnesium. It also cures menstrual abdominal bloating. The suggested dose of magnesium is 200 to 400mg daily.
Yogurt has high amounts of protein and many other nutrients. Since one of the main causes of water retention is a lack of protein, increasing the amount of protein your diet can help relieve the water retention problem. Yogurt has high levels of potassium and protein; hence it’s an excellent home remedy for water retention. If you don’t have yogurt at home, other good sources of protein include cottage cheese, fish, milk and tofu.
7.Avoid Refined Carbs
Eating refined carbs leads to rapid spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels.
High insulin levels cause the body to retain more sodium by increasing re-absorption of sodium in the kidneys (13, 14).
This leads to more fluid volume inside the body.
Examples of refined carbs include processed sugars and grains, such as table sugar and white flour.
8.Add fibre in to your diet
Eating fiber rich foods may actually help reduce water retention because they absorb adequate amount of water as they pass through your intestines. Foods like broccoli, peas, berries, whole wheat grains, oatmeal, chia seeds, flaxseed, artichokes and beans are fibrous and can prove to be great for relieving water retention.
Exercise has been scientifically proven to reduce the water retention by getting rid of excess salt and water in the body through increased urine flow, sweating and higher respiration. Exercising regularly also improves blood flow and strengthens the blood vessels.