Edema is the build up of fluids in the tissues of the body. Water is the primary culprit, making hands, feet, and ankles particularly prone to swelling. Medical causes for edema vary, but include kidney problems, high blood pressure, and heart failure. Determining if you have edema is done through a simple press test. This test is done in your home and takes less than a minute to complete. If you suspect that your press test is positive, seek medical attention.
Sit in a well lit area. The bathroom is a good location, because typically, you can sit on the toilet and put your foot up on the edge of the tub, to allow for ample viewing area. Later in the day is the best time to perform the press test, because the body has time to retain excess water.
Press your shin with your thumb. Approximately two inches from your foot. Holding your thumb for two to three seconds, maintain pressure on your shin. Be certain you have space to reach your shin comfortably, and have a good view of the area. Pressing on the skin helps determine whether circulation to the area has been hindered by edema.
Remove your thumb. Using your forefinger, feel the area. If a small indention is left where your thumb was placed, it is a sign of edema. Circulation to that area of the skin is moving slowly, indicating a water retention problem. The skin coloring will remain the same and the press test is not painful.
Contact your physician. If your press test is positive for edema your physician can prescribe diuretics to increase output of fluids and reduce retention.