We all notice when any of our body parts get temporarily swelled up. There can be various reasons behind it like the sprain, fracture, allergies, certain fevers, etc.
Although, sometimes this swelling can be an indication of a severe disease. It can even spread to your whole body and cause pain.
In this article, I will discuss one such condition called Anasarca. It will help you to know in detail about its symptoms, causes, and possible treatments.
This condition may be mistaken for some other temporary problem. So, it is essential to know all the information about it.
WHAT IS ANASARCA?
Anasarca is a medical term used to describe the general swelling of the whole body. It happens when there is an abnormal retention of fluids in the tissue gaps of your body.
Unlike other conditions of swelling, this swelling does not restrict itself to a single part or organ. It spreads to the whole body and causes a bloating type appearance.
This condition is also known by massive edema or generalized edema, where the term edema means swelling.
In Anasarca, if you are pinched on your skin, the skin does not go back to its normal condition right away.
Hence, if it is identified on your body, it is not to be taken lightly. It can be a symptom of a major sickness or infection in your body.
Thus, it can be divided into two categories:
When your skin shows cavity after pressing for 3 to 5 seconds, it is known as pitting type of edema. However, this slowly fills back in.
When your skin does not show cavity after pressing, it is known as the non-pitting type of edema.
Now, to differentiate between generalized edema and temporary swelling, you should know its symptoms. The next section will discuss that in detail.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF ANASARCA?
The most obviously seen symptom of Anasarca is swelling (pitting or nonpitting). However, it may also bring some other signs and symptoms to itself like :
- Unable to sleep at night unless sitting upright
- Shortness of breath
- Body weakness
- Increase in the size of your abdomen
- Ring tightness
- Change in blood pressure
- Decreased appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- No urine output
- Swelling of the feet and ankle
- Body weakness
- Shortness of breath
This condition is not an independent disease. In fact, it is a symptom of some other serious disease which is happening inside your body. If you want to start the treatment early, it is better to know the proper cause behind it. This will help you to get exact treatment and will help you to recover fast.
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF ANASARCA?
As mentioned earlier, Anasarca is more of a symptom than a disease. There can be multiple underlying causes behind it. Some of them are common while some can be quite unusual.
These causes bring out certain changes in your body at a cellular level. All these changes ultimately cause fluid retention in the gaps present between the tissues of your body, resulting in generalized edema.
All these causes can be discussed as follows :
COMMON CAUSES OF SWELLING :
i. Burns and sunburns
ii. Excessive sodium (salt) consumption
iii. Heart failure
iv. Albumin deficiency
vi. Side effects of certain medications
vi. Thyroid abnormalities
SERIOUS CAUSES OF SWELLING :
i. Increased hydrostatic pressure :
The blood vessels of your body act like a pipe for some fluids to pass through it and reach the nearby tissue. The effort made by this fluid to escape the blood vessel and escape into surrounding tissue is called hydrostatic pressure.
So, when there is more fluid in the vessel, it exerts more pressure to leak. This causes an increase in hydrostatic pressure eventually resulting in edema.
ii. Reduced osmotic pressure :
Just like magnets exert a force on iron, the plasma proteins exert colloidal osmotic pressure on fluids. This pressure is responsible for retention of these fluids within the blood vessels.
When there is a decrease in essential proteins like albumin, causes reduced osmotic pressure. The fluid gets leaked to interstitial spaces between the tissues.
Eventually, this fluid accumulates in the tissue gaps and causes edema.
iii. Increased vascular permeability :
In this, the blood vessel wall allows fluid to pass out of the blood vessel unchecked. Due to this, fluids from the tissue spaces are not drawn into blood vessels fast enough. This causes fluid retention in the tissue spaces and acute edema.
iv. Lymphatic obstruction :
Sometimes, the lymph vessels get blocked. Due to this, the interstitial fluid cannot be drained from the tissue spaces. Your body becomes unable to excrete this accumulated fluid eventually resulting in generalized edema.
v. Sodium retention :
The most important salts in your body are sodium and potassium. Your kidney manages the concentration of these salts in your body. Whenever there are more electrolytes in the body, your kidney removes them in the form of urine.
Thus, maintaining the overall balance.
So, whenever there is a kidney disease, this function is affected. It starts accumulating excess salts in your body which causes water retention.
It increases the hydrostatic pressure and reduces the osmotic pressure. The whole mechanism eventually results in generalized edema.
All the above-mentioned conditions are further caused by some other major problems.
These are listed as follows :
vi. Malnutrition and protein deficiency :
If your child is suffering from generalized edema, it is likely due to malnutrition and protein deficiency. Kwashiorkor is one such disease in which edema is seen. The chances of this disease to occur are mostly in children aged between 1 – 4.
vii. Heart and kidney failure :
This condition is most likely to occur if you have had either kidney or heart failure. It happens because there is a loss of protein in the urine. Due to which your kidney is not able to function properly.
Thus, resulting in retention of water and other toxins in your body.
In case, if you have had a heart failure, your cardiac system will function poorly. Due to this, your heart will pump lesser volume of blood. This will create a deficiency of blood in other parts of your body.
So, to compensate this problem, your kidney will retain salts and water. Eventually, fluid retention will occur and lead to generalized edema.
viii. Idiopathic edema :
This condition occurs, If you have taken diuretics for a long time or you are in a pre-menopausal period. In this situation, your capillaries might get leaked causing excessive fluid to pass into the interstitial spaces or tissue gaps. Thus, resulting in fluid retention and acute edema.
ix. Nephrotic syndrome :
It is a kidney disease which occurs in children. In this, the glomerular membrane becomes leaky to plasma proteins like albumin. Due to which a large amount of albumin is lost in urine and colloidal osmotic pressure is reduced.
This will initially give your child a puffy appearance around the eye. Although, later on, it will gradually progress towards Anasarca, i.e., generalized edema.
x. Liver disease :
The most common disease-causing Anasarca is liver cirrhosis. When the functional cells of your liver get replaced by useless fibrous tissues, it leads to low protein production in your body.
This causes low osmotic pressure and high hydrostatic pressure in the veins of your abdominal organs.
Eventually, this all results in an excessive fluid in the tissue cavities and generalized edema.
Other causes : –
xi. Congestive heart failure
xii. Eclampsia / Pre-eclampsia
xiii. Exogenous IV fluid administration
xiv. Hookworm (Ancylostomiasis)
xv. Particular plant-based anti-cancer chemotherapy agents like Docetaxel
WHAT ARE TYPE OF DIAGNOSIS METHODS FOR THIS?
The following can be the diagnostic methods for generalized edema :
- Magnetic resonance imaging
This is the list of possible tests that can be done for identifying generalized edema. It includes tests which can identify all the possible causes related to heart, kidney, liver, etc.
IS THERE ANY TREATMENT FOR ANASARCA?
Yes, there are some proper treatments to treat this problem. Although to get proper treatment for Anasarca, you need to understand your medical history.
A full physical exam or any other diagnostic exam can help you determine the cause of Anasarca in your body.
It will let you know the albumin level, blood electrolytes, creatinine, and BUN to check for kidney failure (if any). If you have been through congestive heart failure, ECG and EKG can also be done.
Once Anasarca and the underlying problem is diagnosed, appropriate measures like these can be taken to treat the problem :
Medications For Anasarca
1. Loop Diuretics :
These are given to you so that the excess fluid present in the tissue gaps can be excreted out of your body through urination. This will decrease the fluid retention and will help reduce edema.
2. Potassium-sparing diuretic :
Potassium is an essential element of your body. It might get passed out from your body during urination. To prevent this, drugs like spironolactone and triamterene can be taken. It will help in reducing edema to quite an extent.
3. Thiazide diuretic :
It is another potential diuretic which produces the synergistic response in your body. It stimulates different sites of the kidney and excretes excess water. One such diuretic is Hydrochlorothiazide which can be taken to treat the condition.
HOME REMEDIES To Cure Anasarca?
Apart from these medications, you can also try some home remedies to resolve the problem. Although, it will require patience for such problems to go away completely. If you find your condition serious, it is always recommended to seek medical attention first.
Following are some home remedies :
1. Take detoxifiers like Alfalfa. It contains chlorophyll and is very potent. It is recommended in the dosage of 2000 to 3000 milligrams per day.
2. Include food items like eggs, broiled white fish, skinless chicken or turkey, cottage cheese, kefir and low-fat yogurt in your daily diet. It is extremely important for malnourished patients.
These foods are high in protein and will help in reducing edema. Eating high fiber diet can also help.
3. Take natural diuretics like hawthorn berries, horsetails, juniper, uva ursi. They will increase your urine output.
4. Exercise or take saunas. It will produce sweat on your body. Thus, helping in reducing the edema.
5. If you have kidney failure, I will suggest you Hemodialysis. It can be done at home also. It will help you remove excess fluid from liver and renal area.
6. If you are suffering from post-surgical edema, it is advised to eat horse chestnut. Rosehips are also a suggested remedy for this condition because it contains bioflavonoids.
7. Whenever you are resting at home, keep your feet elevated from the ground. It will increase venous return and will give you some relief.
8. Take herbs like Dandelion leaf or Ginkgo in your daily tea. It will enhance the blood flow to your body and reduce swelling.
9. Eat Parsley in a large amount. It is a natural diuretic good for edema treatment. It can be taken as a tea or supplement to flush out the toxins from your kidneys.
10. Take Cleavers liquid extract as an infusion. It will work as a potential diuretic and tonic.
11. Drink Stinging nettle tea twice a day. It is a very beneficial herb for the body and supports all the internal organs. It will stimulate your kidneys to excrete excess fluid from your body which will reduce edema.
12. Drink 3 cups of Rosemary infusion in a day. It will treat generalized edema and bloat in a much potential manner.
WHAT ARE THE THINGS TO AVOID DURING ANASARCA?
It is very important to address this condition. Along with taking home remedies, it is also advised to avoid some things. It is important to do so because further neglect can even lead to death. Hence, Avoid the following items :
- Animal proteins like beef
- Dairy products
- Salt ( It can be substituted with lemon in your daily diet )
- Excess fluid intake ( It can lead to further edema and breathing difficulty )
- Water pills
Anasarca is a very disturbing problem for sufferers. Hence, it demands to be taken seriously. If any of the above remedies do not work, it is advised to seek a proper medical treatment or surgery.