What is the definition of Idiopathic Edema?

Idiopathic edema is a common cause of fluid retention and swelling (edema) in women. "Idiopathic" means that the cause of this condition is unknown. Idiopathic edema occurs in the absence of heart, kidney, or liver disease. It is often associated with diabetes, obesity, and emotional problems. The edema may develop periodically or it may persist over time. Swelling of the face, hands, and legs can develop rapidly, and affected individuals typically experience significant changes in their weight over the course of a day. Treatment often includes a low sodium and carbohydrate diet as well as cessation of diuretic therapy (if warranted).

What are the alternative names for Idiopathic Edema?

  • Idiopathic cyclic edema
  • Idiopathic orthostatic edema
  • Fluid retention syndrome
  • Cyclical edema

What are the current treatments for Idiopathic Edema?

Most individuals with idiopathic edema experience a decrease in swelling and fluid retention with the introduction of a low sodium, low carbohydrate diet. For individuals already taking diuretics, a brief discontinuation may result in symptom improvement as well. Individuals who do not respond to initial treatment may be difficult to treat; however, other therapies such as use of hypertension medications (ACE inhibitors) have shown success in some cases.

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