5 things that cause water retention (and tips on what to do)

Our body is mainly water. Water is in our blood, bones, muscles and organs. Although our body needs water to function, it can sometimes hold back too much. This accumulation of water in our body is called water retention. It manifests itself physically, which makes the body appear abnormally inflated.

In most cases, short-term water retention is not a serious health problem. However, long-term water retention can have dangerous effects on the body.

The underlying health conditions that water retention can produce include cirrhosis of the liver, heart failure, kidney failure, preeclampsia, and premenstrual syndrome.

Water retention can result from a number of things. Here are the top five reasons we do water retention (and recommendations on what to do):


Many prescription drugs list water retention as a side effect. Drugs known to increase fluid retention include antidepressants, beta-blockers, blood pressure medications, chemotherapy drugs, and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) over the counter.

The most common NSAIDs are aspirin (Bayer, Bufferin, Excedrin), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve).

Recommendation: If you are taking prescription medication, consult your doctor. Medical supervision is necessary because the withdrawal symptoms often encountered because the body adapts to smaller amounts of the drug. Visiting a doctor may also be wise if you notice excessive swelling caused by NSAIDs or other pain medications.


Women are very often affected by perimenopause (early menopause) and menopause – which is often a byproduct of fluid retention, intestinal gas, decreased body bile or a combination of the three.

Estrogen hormones and progesterone play an important role in water retention. Water retention can occur when estrogen levels are too high or when progesterone levels are too low. Hormonal imbalance is the reason why water retention is very common during the premenstrual phase.


First, pay attention to your diet and eliminate or reduce foods that appear to cause bloating and gas. If this does not solve the problem, it may be necessary to see a health professional to test food allergies and intolerances.


Water retention from a heart condition may be evident in swelling of the legs and abdomen.Some common symptoms of heart failure include dizziness, fatigue, rapid heart rate, weakness, and shortness of breath. .

Recommendation: See a doctor immediately. The more the medical intervention is delayed, the more the risk of heart failure increases. The attending physician may perform one or more tests, including blood tests, chest x-ray, electrocardiogram (ECG), cardiac computed tomography (CT) and / or cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).


Sodium is an essential nutrient that has a number of important functions, but it is needed only in small amounts. Too often, the foods we eat contain excessive amounts of salt, inducing water retention and weight gain.

Recommendation: First, be aware that the recommended amount of sodium intake is 2,300 milligrams or less per day, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It may sound like a lot, but it’s just a teaspoon of salt. Second, limit your salt intake by using alternatives, such as herbs and spices. Cumin, dill, garlic, ginger, oregano, onion, sage and pepper are all viable choices. Lemon juice, mustard and vinegar can also add a nice flavor.


Sitting or standing for a long time causes the tissues to retain water. Having a sedentary and inactive lifestyle can also cause water retention. Either case produces physical symptoms, including swollen ankles and legs.

Recommendation: It is important to circulate the blood throughout the body. If your job requires you to sit at a desk all day, use your breaks to go out and walk a bit. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Do not be afraid to become creative! If you are inactive, it is important that you first understand the benefits of the exercise. You do not need a great athletic training, try to have 15 to 30 minutes of light to moderate exercise three times a week.

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