Potential causes of peripheral edema

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Peripheral edema typically affects the legs or ankles. Edema is described as swelling due to the accumulation of serous fluid in the connective tissue such as bone and cartilage or in the serous cavity which is a hollow space inside the body.

This occurs once small-sized blood vessels in the body leak fluid in the surrounding tissue. Remember that the fluid is more likely to become trapped below the skin as well as in independent regions such as the legs or ankles which is called peripheral edema. This can also occur within the internal organs such as the heart and the lungs as well. The exact location where fluid retention occurs is vital in determining the underlying cause of the edema.

Peripheral edema due to trauma

Deep venous thrombosis is a main cause of peripheral edema. Blood clots within a vein can trigger inflammation. In most circumstances, deep venous thrombosis develops once the blood clots detach and travel via the bloodstream which leads to clogged blood capillaries.

The condition usually involves the large-sized veins in the legs. The presence of the blood clots in the veins typically occur after sustaining trauma to the superficial veins.

Peripheral edema can also occur after standing for extended periods of time during long airplane flights or road trips, trauma to the foot or ankle and being overweight.

Venous insufficiency

Peripheral edema
Peripheral edema can also occur after standing for extended periods of time during long airplane flights or road trips, trauma to the foot or ankle and being overweight.

When it comes to venous insufficiency, the circulation of blood in the veins are disrupted. This is triggered by damaged or weakened valves in the veins of the legs. These leg veins are responsible for transporting blood back to the heart. The presence of these valves keep the blood flowing in one direction towards the heart, thus blood will not accumulate in a single region.

On the other hand, the valves can end up weakened or damaged in varicose or swollen veins. This can cause the veins to stay dilated with irregular build-up of blood which results to peripheral edema. Take note that venous insufficiency is often limited to the peripheral areas of the ankles, legs and feet. In most cases, both legs are affected.

Kidney or liver disease

The kidneys and the liver are vital organs responsible for maintaining the fluid balance by controlling the concentration of water of blood plasma. The kidney is responsible for maintaining fluid balance by eliminating waste products and water. Peripheral edema can develop in some kidney or liver diseases such as nephritic syndrome, liver cirrhosis and acute renal failure.

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