Medical Conditions That May Cause Fluid Retention
Fluid retention may be a symptom of serious underlying conditions, including:
- kidney disease such as nephrotic syndrome and acute glomerulonephritis
- heart failure if the heart does not pump effectively, the body compensates in various ways. It starts to retain fluid and increase the volume of blood. This results in congestion of the veins, enlargement of the liver, and the accumulation of fluid in body cavities like the abdominal cavity and in subcutaneous tissues, causing swelling of the legs
- chronic lung diseases such as severe emphysema, which put excessive pressure on the hearts right ventricle, leading to its failure
- liver disease such as severe cirrhosis that triggers liver failure
- malignant lymphoedema cancerous tumours that block structures of the lymphatic system, such as the lymph nodes
- thyroid disease such as hypothyroidism
- arthritis joints affected by some types of arthritis tend to swell with fluid
- allergic reaction in susceptible people, the body tends to swell in response to particular allergens, such as an insect bite. In some cases, the reaction is severe and requires urgent medical attention. This swelling is short-lived rather than ongoing
- heart function tests, such as electrocardiogram .
Asthma And Weight Gain
Most people know about the usual weight-gain suspects eating too much unhealthy food or spending too much time on the couch, for instance. But for people with asthma, there’s an additional factor their medication. Weight gain can be an unfortunate side effect of oral steroids, taken in pill or inhaler form to treat asthma.
There is a proven link between weight gain and oral steroids, says Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD, registered dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. The reason? Steroids simply increase your appetite, says Dr. Gerbstadt, adding that steroids raise blood glucose levels and cause other metabolic changes that not only put the patient at risk of gaining weight, but perhaps even developing diabetes.
The Link Between Asthma And Weight Gain
âAs a group, asthmatics are overweight,â says Karen McCoy, MD, chief of the division of pulmonary medicine at Nationwide Childrenâs Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
Parents of children with asthma often excuse them from physical activity if they complain of shortness of breath, she says. Although most asthma drugs, including inhaled steroids, typically donât affect appetite, oral steroids can make some children eat more than double their usual amount, she says.
Carrie Gleeksman, MS, RD, works with many adult asthma patients who are on long-term oral steroids such as prednisone at National Jewish Health, a respiratory hospital and research center based in Denver, She has seen long-term use of these asthma drugs have dramatic effects on patients.
âPrednisone has a number of side effects that impact their nutritional status,â Gleeksman says. âThe biggest one is significant weight gain, partly due to an increase in appetite from the prednisone, partly due to the way the medication works and slows down the metabolism and leads to fluid retention.â
âWeight loss in that population is no different than weight loss in any other population: balanced diet, increased activity, decreased calories — basically, the same thing that everybody knows,â Gleeksman says.
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Whats The Treatment For Cardiac Asthma
The treatment for cardiac asthma is essentially to treat the cause of the underlying heart problem, whether it be heart failure or a leaky heart valve, and the excess fluid in the lungs. Medicines may be needed to reduce blood pressure, including diuretics which help reduce fluid retention. If the heart failure can be treated effectively, this may in turn relieve the respiratory symptoms known as cardiac asthma.
People who awaken suddenly in the night with symptoms of cardiac asthma may improve the situation by sitting upright for half an hour. There is no evidence that using bronchodilators will help, and they may even worsen the situation.
Kidney Failure Caused By Taking Aspirin Or Acetaminophen
Individuals who have kidney disease or other ailments who regularly take aspirin or acetaminophen may be boosting their risk of developing kidney failure.
Researchers report that such patients who were regular users those who took these painkillers at least twice a week for 2 months were two to three times more likely to have the beginning stages of chronic kidney failure, compared with individuals who did not use these painkillers on a regular basis.
This study and others have found that the risk is minimal in those without pre-existing kidney disease.
Individuals who used either drug regularly were 2.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with chronic renal failure, compared with individuals who did not use these painkillers. The risk rose in tandem with the amount of either drug taken over a lifetime, the investigators found.
In looking at only participants with diabetes a major underlying cause of kidney failure regular aspirin and acetaminophen use were still linked to an increased risk.
The results support those of other studies that have found an association between regular use of painkillers and an increased risk of chronic kidney failure in susceptible individuals.
The results are consistent with exacerbating effects of acetaminophen and aspirin on chronic renal failure, practically regardless of accompanying disease.
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How Asthma Is Treated
While there is no cure for asthma, there are a number of treatments that can help control the condition.
Treatment is based on two important goals, which are:
- relieving symptoms
- preventing future symptoms and attacks
For most people, this will involve the occasional or, more commonly, daily use of medications, usually taken using an inhaler. However, identifying and avoiding possible triggers is also important.
You should have a personal asthma action plan agreed with your doctor or nurse that includes information about the medicines you need to take, how to recognise when your symptoms are getting worse, and what steps to take when they do so.
These symptoms are often worse at night and early in the morning, particularly if the condition is not well controlled. They may also develop or become worse in response to a certain trigger, such as exercise or exposure to an allergen.
Read our page on the causes of asthma for more information about potential triggers.
Speak to your GP if you think you or your child may have asthma. You should also talk to your doctor or asthma nurse if you have been diagnosed with asthma and you are finding it difficult to control the symptoms.
Is Dehydration An Asthma Trigger
A search of the medical literature does not show any extensive evidence that dehydration itself is connected to asthma as a trigger. It is well known, however, that asthmatics are more sensitive to dehydration than non-asthmatics. Additionally, dehydration can often be associated with a side effect of asthma and its medications.
Keeping a good water balance is a good idea for asthmatics as many components of asthma attacks and treatment focus on a proper water balance for the body. Some clinical experts even recommend sufficient hydration as an adjunct to asthma therapy.
You can be your own best advocate and caretaker. The more you know about your own asthma condition, the better able you will be to avoid triggers and acute exacerbations.
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Research For Your Health
NHLBI-supported research on asthma has led to more and better treatment options to improve the health of people who have asthma. Through our current research, we hope to better understand how our genes and the environment we live in affect our risk for developing asthma.
Side Effects Of Relievers And Preventers
Relievers are a safe and effective medicine, and have few side effects as long as they are not used too much. The main side effects include a mild shaking of the hands , headaches and muscle cramps. These usually only happen with high doses of reliever inhaler and usually only last for a few minutes.
Preventers are very safe at usual doses, although they can cause a range of side effects at high doses, especially with long-term use.
The main side effect of preventer inhalers is a fungal infection of the mouth or throat . You may also develop a hoarse voice and sore throat.
Using a spacer can help prevent these side effects, as can rinsing your mouth or cleaning your teeth after using your preventer inhaler.
Your doctor or nurse will discuss with you the need to balance control of your asthma with the risk of side effects, and how to keep side effects to a minimum.
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Symptoms Of Cardiac Asthma
Cardiac asthma has some symptoms that can mimic those of bronchial asthma. The main symptoms and signs of cardiac asthma are:
- shortness of breath
- coughing up blood-tinged mucus
- symptoms worse at night.
The pattern of shortness of breath can help doctors determine which condition you have. People with bronchial asthma tend to experience shortness of breath early in the morning, whereas people with heart failure and cardiac asthma often find they wake up suddenly breathless a few hours after going to bed, and have to sit upright to catch their breath.
This is because in people with heart failure, lying down for prolonged periods will cause fluid to accumulate in the lungs leading to shortness of breath. If they sit up in bed for a while the symptoms may subside.
Both asthma and heart failure can make people short of breath when they exert themselves.
In asthma, symptoms are usually brought on by vigorous exercise and tend to be worse after the exercise than during it.
On the other hand, cardiac asthma tends to happen during less vigorous exertion someone with heart failure can find themselves short of breath and wheezing while climbing stairs, or in severe cases, while getting dressed.
People with heart failure also often have problems with swollen ankles that worsen during the course of the day. They may also feel very tired, put on weight and have to urinate frequently.
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Dear Dr. Roach: I am wondering if there is a safer inhaler to use in place of an albuterol inhaler. I have high blood pressure that, at times, is very difficult to control. I have not yet tried the albuterol inhaler. I was prepared to, but stopped before doing so after reading the side-effects and potential dangers to the heart for someone with high blood pressure.
Asthma is a condition of reversible airway obstruction. It has many triggers, such as smoke or other airborne irritants. Exercise, infection, cold air and emotional stress also can trigger an asthma attack, and in some people, attacks can happen for no clear reason.
Once an attack occurs, treatment with a fast-acting inhaler such as albuterol provides relief for most people, and it can even be lifesaving for those with severe asthma. I recommend that all people with asthma have a fast-acting inhaler, just in case. People with frequent symptoms should carry it with them, as well as keep one in their home/work/ car, as appropriate. During an attack, the benefit outweighs the negligible risk to the heart.
However, its not optimal to take medicines such as albuterol all the time. They do raise the heart rate, causing palpitations and tremour. Albuterol usually does not raise blood pressure significantly.
People who use a lot of albuterol or similar inhalers are more likely to be hospitalized for asthma than those who dont. To some extent, this is due to having more severe illness.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Fluid Overload And Retention
Symptoms of fluid retention may include:
- Swelling of the feet or ankles
- High blood pressure
- Shortness of breath on exertion , or even at rest. You may also experience wheezing and a cough
- Swollen abdomen
- Elevated heart rate, due to increased cardiac output as your body struggles to pump this extra fluid
- Weight gain, due to the water weight that steroids can cause you to retain. You may also experience increased appetite while taking steroids another reason for possible weight gain
The above and more are some of the puffy and uncomfortable symptoms associated with fluid retention.
How Asthma Affects The Lungs
Normally, the bodys immune system helps fight infections. But it may also respond to other things you breathe in, such as pollen or mold. In some people, the immune system reacts strongly by creating inflammation.
When this happens, the airways swell, narrow, and may create more mucus. The muscles around the airways may also tighten. This can make it even harder to breathe. Over time, the airway walls can become thicker.
To understand asthma, it helps to understand how the lungs work.
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Symptoms Of Bronchial Asthma
The symptoms of bronchial asthma include:
- a feeling of tightness in the chest
- difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath
- wheezing or whistling in the chest and
- coughing persistent cough is a common symptom it may be worse at night.
For most people with bronchial asthma, the pattern is they feel well most of the time and can breathe normally, but have periodic attacks of narrowing of their airways and wheezing. However people with severe asthma may alternate between chronic shortness of breath and episodes in which they feel even more breathless than usual.
Asthma May Also Cause Poor Appetite
Although itâs much less common, some asthma patients have poor appetite.
Loss of appetite âis usually a signal that the asthma is not well controlled, not adequately treated,â McCoy says. If patients are not breathing well, their lungs can become hyper-inflated, she says. âThey get full faster since their diaphragms under the lungs are pushing down on the stomach and it may not feel comfortable to their breathing to over-fill themselves.â
Some patients with uncontrolled and under-treated asthma are so breathless that they have a hard time eating their meals. âThe best thing to do for that is small, frequent meals,â Gleeksman says. âIf it just takes that much energy to eat — and for some people, it really does — the best thing they can do is to eat smaller amounts throughout the day.â
Asthma can also leave some people too fatigued to cook, Gleeksman says. âThey know the energy that itâs going to take them, not only to eat, but to prepare food. It almost ends up being a negative feedback mechanism, where they know how exhausted theyâre going to be from thinking about getting out, preparing, cooking and then eating food. They donât want to do it at all.â
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Controlling Symptoms At The End Of Life
Pain is a common symptom in any advanced physical disease and can be part of the normal dying process. It can usually be well controlled using the right medications. These medications may include opioids . You might be worried about having opioids if you or a loved one has a respiratory condition, but they are safe for people with lung disease to use.
Youll be given drugs in a way that causes the least amount of discomfort, pain, or stress. Your doctor may suggest trying a low dose of liquid morphine that is short-acting. This is to see initially how much you need help with your symptoms. If it helps, your doctor might suggest you have a longer acting morphine pill or morphine-like patch.
Breathlessnessmight be improved by using inhalers, tablets and occasionally nebulisers. It can behelpful to use a hand-held fan when you feel breathless. The feeling of air on your face can make it feel easier to breathe. But if your breathlessness is more severe and blood oxygen is low, long-term oxygen might improve your breathing and quality of life.
Long-term home oxygen is needed when your lungs can no longer maintain enough oxygen in your blood. This oxygen is normally delivered from a machine that concentrates the oxygen from the air called an oxygen concentrator. You need to use this machine for at least 15 hours a day. The amount of oxygen needed is carefully assessed and monitored and may need to be increased over time. Read more about oxygen therapy.
Personal Asthma Action Plan
As part of your initial assessment, you should be encouraged to draw up a personal asthma action plan with your GP or asthma nurse.
If you’ve been admitted to hospital because of an asthma attack, you should be offered an action plan before you go home.
The action plan should include information about your asthma medicines, and will help you recognise when your symptoms are getting worse and what steps to take. You should also be given information about what to do if you have an asthma attack.
Your personal asthma action plan should be reviewed with your GP or asthma nurse at least once a year, or more frequently if your symptoms are severe.
As part of your asthma plan, you may be given a peak flow meter. This will give you another way of monitoring your asthma, rather than relying only on symptoms, so you can recognise deterioration earlier and take appropriate steps.
Read further information:
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What Causes Breathing Problems
There are two kinds of fluid retention that can lead to breathing difficulties. One of the most common types of fluid retention for the lungs is pulmonary edema. In this medical condition, fluid starts to build up within the lungs. Overtime, it will make it harder for the individual to breathe and vigorous exercise may become impossible. If the condition is allowed to continue, it can lead to a higher risk of cardiac arrest or heart failure. Another water retention issue that can cause issues is ascites. Ascites is commonly known as fluid retention within the abdomen. As this condition continues, it causes the abdomen to swell significantly. This swelling and the fluids place more pressure on the surrounding organs. The swelling can squeeze the lungs and make it so that they cannot expand completely. When this happens, it will become difficult to breathe.