How to Reduce Water Retention for Health

Water retention, also known as edema, is the accumulation of too much fluid in your system. The edema is sometimes localized in one specific area such as the ankles or may cause swelling throughout the whole body. The swelling can create discomfort and even pain. Causes of water retention vary widely, including trauma, illness, medications, pregnancy, burns and allergic reactions. Prescription drugs, home remedies and lifestyle changes all may help reduce water retention, but the problem is likely to recur unless you and your doctor identify the underlying cause of the edema.


    • 1

      Make an appointment with your doctor. Water retention may be a sign of a serious medical problem such as liver or kidney disease, heart failure, blood clots and thyroid disorders. The doctor will likely check your blood pressure, listen to your heart and take blood to check for disorders and illnesses. The doctor may prescribe a diuretic, or water pill, to reduce water retention. If the problem is a side effect of a prescription drug, the doctor can switch you to a different medication.

    • 2

      Try herbal diuretics once you have the go-ahead from your doctor. Over-the-counter herbal remedies such as dandelion and ginger sometimes create a diuretic effect in the body. Many grocery, discount and health food stores offer such remedies in pill or droplet forms.

    • 3

      Reduce salt. Excess sodium can cause the body to retain fluid. Avoid adding extra salt to your meals at the table, and don't include salt when you cook. Look for low-sodium or no-salt-added products when you shop.

    • 4

      Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. Melons, cucumbers and celery in particular help the body eliminate fluid and reduce water retention.

    • 5

      Exercise. Exercise is important for overall health and helps the body reduce excess fluid. Be sure to replace fluids lost during exercise by drinking enough water. Although it sounds contradictory, drinking water flushes toxins from the tissues and helps reduce swelling.

Tips & Warnings

  • Follow instructions for prescriptions carefully.
  • Ask your doctor before using herbal remedies for water retention since some remedies may conflict with prescription drugs or existing medical conditions.
  • WebMD indicates that little scientific evidence proves the effectiveness of over-the-counter herbal diuretics.
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