6 Signs of Water Retention

Water retention, also generally called edema or fluid retention, can cause uncomfortable swelling in your body, particularly in your legs, feet, and ankles. This condition might also be an indication of a more serious health issue. In this article, you will discover the signs of water retention and what you can do to alleviate the symptoms.

What is Water Retention?

Put simply, water retention, popularly known as edema, refers to your body’s accumulation of excessive fluids. This can lead to swelling in certain parts of the body. Paired with other symptoms, water retention could mean an underlying health condition.

Signs of Water Retention


Swelling, or edema, is the most common sign of water retention. If you notice your skin looking puffy or swollen, you might be experiencing water retention. This is especially true if the swelling is noticeable in your hands, feet, legs, or ankles.

Signs of Water Retention

Weight Gain

You might also be dealing with water retention if you are experiencing sudden and unexplained weight gain. A rapid increase in weight might be a consequence of water being retained in your body tissues.


Bloating, particularly in the abdominal area, is another symptom. This can have many causes, including water retention. The bloating can be uncomfortable and can even affect the fit of your clothing.

Indentations in the Skin

Less frequently, water retention might also cause indentations or pits in the skin. This condition, known as pitting edema, occurs when pressure applied to the skin leaves a dimple or indentation that takes some time to fill back up.

Joint Stiffness

Joint stiffness can also be a sign of water retention. This often occurs when excess fluid puts pressure on the joints, leading to discomfort and limited mobility.

Difficulty Breathing

Less frequently, but always a serious sign, water retention might also cause difficulty breathing. If you notice that you are having trouble catching your breath, it might be due to excess fluid in your lungs, a condition known as pulmonary edema.

This is a serious condition and actually requires immediate medical attention. Therefore, always consider difficulty breathing, particularly if paired with chest pain, as a sign that you need to seek immediate medical help.

Causes of Water Retention

Water retention can have many causes, including a sedentary lifestyle, a high-sodium diet, hormonal changes, or certain medications. In more serious cases, however, it might be a sign of kidney disease, heart failure, or liver cirrhosis.

Reducing Water Retention

Reducing water retention often involves lifestyle changes. Along with these, a healthcare professional might prescribe you medication to help manage the symptoms.

Regular Exercise

Regular exercise is a proven method to combat water retention. This helps stimulate blood circulation and drain excess fluids. Even if you’re experiencing discomfort due to swelling, gentle exercises like walking or stretching can help.

Diet Modifications

Diet plays a crucial role in managing water retention. Avoiding high-sodium foods and including more potassium-rich foods can help balance your body’s fluid levels. Keeping hydrated is also essential, as paradoxical as it might seem since dehydration can prompt your body to retain more water.

Further Reading: Foods to Reduce Water Retention

Proper Positioning

Proper positioning, especially for people who sit or stand for long periods, can also be beneficial. For example, elevating your legs when sitting can help alleviate swelling.

When to Seek Medical Help

If your water retention persists or is paired with other worrying symptoms like chest pain or breathlessness, you should seek medical help immediately. Water retention can be a symptom of serious health conditions and should always be evaluated by a professional.


In summary, water retention can be uncomfortable, but recognizing its signs can help you manage the condition effectively. While lifestyle changes can reduce water retention, always remember to seek medical advice if you have persistent or severe symptoms.

Further Reading: How To Get Rid Of Water Retention

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