Water Retention Causes

Water Retention Causes

Known as fluid retention or water retention, this medical problem occurs when water builds up within the tissues or circulatory system. In the normal human body, the composition is 70 percent water. It is a required part of human cells and the blood. When certain medical problems are present, the body can start to store excess water. If the body is healthy, the kidneys can normally remove* the unnecessary fluid. Some medical conditions or kidney problems can stop this from occurring correctly.


Many pregnant women have noticed an increased level of fluid retention. During pregnancy, the uterus becomes heavier. This added weight places a strain on some of the major veins in the pelvis. The added strain can stop fluid from being removed easily and can lead to water retention. As a natural part of pregnancy, most women do not have to worry about any long-term effects. Once the child is born, the body should be able to return to its normal capacity.


Although arthritis can cause water retention, it is normally localized to areas around the joints. In some cases, the water retention is actually caused by an underlying medical condition. When the water retention appears in different parts of the body, it is most likely caused by a coexisting medical condition.


Known commonly as high blood pressure, hypertension causes a range of problems within the body. Blood pressure is normally at levels of 120/80 mmHg. If either of these rates is too high, someone may suffer from blood pressure. Typically, hypertension is diagnosed when someone has a blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg for the majority of the time. Once they develop high blood pressure, individuals may feel dizzy when standing up or develop frequent headaches. They may suffer from fluid retention since their body is unable to remove* toxins and fluid efficiently. Individuals with a history or heart disease, kidney issues or strokes may need to keep their blood pressure lower than normal.

Menstrual Cycles

Premenstrual syndrome carries a host of symptoms. Each month, women may suffer from side effects like water retention. This results in feelings of being bloated or a heavy sensation a week or two before menstruation begins. Although scientists are not sure why water retention occurs during the menstrual cycle, they think it may be attributed to hormonal changes. Women with a family history of water retention may be more likely to develop problems. To prevent fluid retention each month, women should adopt a healthy diet that is rich in vitamins. Physical activity and salt reduction* can reduce* some of the symptoms.

Varicose Veins

In the first stages of varicose veins, no visible change is apparent on the legs. As the disease progress, spider veins will appear. Unable to effectively transmit blood throughout the body, the veins may begin to bunch up and create a lumpy appearance along the skin’s surface. Individuals who suffer from varicose veins may deal with swelling and pain. Often, this pain is worse during the nighttime hours. Since the weakened blood veins cannot transmit fluid throughout the body, it can start to pool in certain areas of the body. This leads to fluid retention and a buildup of toxins in the body part. Unfortunately, there are very few cures for varicose veins. Although the affected veins can be removed, the additional cardiovascular problems may be difficult to treat*.

Heart Disease

A healthy human body relies on the heart to transmit blood throughout the body. Over time, the heart can weaken and be unable to effectively pump blood through the veins. This results in a changed blood pressure that can lead to swelling. The fluid can build up within the lungs, legs and feet. If it enters the lungs, it can cause the patient to develop a chronic cough. Ultimately, heart disease leads to breathing problems and can cause a heart attack. To help the fluid leave the body, a doctor may prescribe a diuretic for the patient. This diuretic allows the body to shed water through the urine.

Liver Disease

Although it may develop for multiple reasons, liver disease and cirrhosis are stereotyped as the disease of alcoholics. Over time, the liver may be damaged and unable to operate properly. If the cause of the damage is not removed in a timely manner, the cirrhosis may become permanent. When the liver does not properly work, it makes it difficult for the body to process proteins and remove* waste. This can cause problems like water retention or jaundice. To remedy this issue, many doctors will recommend calorie supplements or multi-vitamins. Water tablets may also be prescribed to reduce* the water retention in the abdomen and legs.


One of the most common causes of water retention is excess histamine. This chemical is created when someone is exposed to an allergen like pollen. Although the allergen may vary, the results are the same. The body produces added histamine in the body that makes the capillaries dilate. This can cause them to leak fluid out. When the body does this, it allows white blood cells to heal infected tissue. If it is done in response to allergens or an improperly functioning organ, it can lead to unwanted side effects.

Heart Failure

The heart is a key organ for the human body. It is necessary for the body to circulate blood, nutrients and fluid. When the heart does not pump blood properly, it stops removing* fluids and toxins. Over time, this allows water to be retained within the tissue.

Hormone Replacement Therapy

The body is a carefully designed machine. For it to run smoothly, all of the organs and hormones have to work in careful concert. Some people have to take hormone replacement therapy to deal with other medical problems. Using HRT can cause bloating or weight gain. The face, ankles or legs may swell from water retention. Likewise, hormone replacement therapy can cause breast tenderness and headaches. When individuals experience water retention from hormone replacement therapy, the only way to truly solve the problem is to stop using hormone replacement therapy.

Allergic Reaction

When someone is allergic to something, their body treats* the allergen as an invader. The body releases histamine and extra fluid is pumped through the body. This leaks out into the body’s tissue with white blood cells in an attempt to kill the invading substance. For the individual suffering from an allergy, this results in water retention and other symptoms.

Kidney Problems

Over time, toxic substances can build up in the kidneys. This limits their ability to balance the amount of water within the body. It can lead to excess salt retention, fluid retention and high blood pressure. Many different causes can lead to a dysfunctional kidney. It could be the result of genetics or from excess toxins in the body.

Chronic Venous Insufficiency

This condition occurs when veins weaken within the legs. Once this occurs, it allows the veins to fold over and stop working properly. Fluid can leak out and blood stops returning to the heart. When all of these factors combine, it can lead to water retention. The only way to treat* the water retention effectively is to deal with the chronic venous insufficiency. Since this is difficult to do, doctors often prescribe a water tablet or diuretic.

Hormonal Imbalances

Women often experience water retention during their menstrual cycle. As hormones change in the body, it can promote the development of fluid retention and bloating. Other hormonal changes due to pregnancy, hormone replacement therapy or a hormonal imbalance can also lead to water retention.

Certain Medications

Since the hormones have to be well-balanced for the body to function, any medication that changes the hormones can cause water retention to occur. Estrogen-containing drugs like hormone replacement therapy can cause water retention. In addition, oral contraceptive pills and NSAIDS like ibuprofen can also cause this problem. Other medications that cause water retention include beta-blockers, aspirin and naproxen.

Sluggish Liver Function

Toxins or health problems can cause the liver to function slower than normal. When this happens, it can make it difficult for the body to process toxins and fluids. As a result, people may develop fluid retention. To remedy the issue, individuals typically have to solve their liver issue. Liver cleanses, water tablets or healthy lifestyle changes may be adopted in order to support liver function.

How Can Supplements Effectively Treat* These Issues?

Each underlying medical condition has to be dealt with in order to solve water retention problems. This may involve lifestyle changes or adoption of different medications. For bloating during the menstrual cycle, women can work out vigorously to help minimize the problem. Supplements can also improve* the body’s ability to transport blood and nutrients. They can increase* the functioning of the cardiovascular system and detoxify the liver.

Water retention can be unsightly and painful for sufferers. In each individual, the causes of the problem can vary. Due to this, they must figure out the underlying medical condition. Once this is done, they can find effective treatments and solutions to their water retention.

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Contributor : Emily Clark (Consumer Health Digest)

Emily Clark is a medical writer with years of experience. She can be found residing in Maywood, Illinois, researching and writing on recent advances in medicine.

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