Edema is the abnormal buildup of fluid in a part of the body, which can cause swelling and pain.

Some causes of edema include:

  • Inactivity. Swelling of the ankles during a long airplane trip is an example of edema caused by inactivity.
  • Diseases such as heart failure. If the left side of the heart is damaged, it can cause fluid to build up in the lungs (pulmonary edema).
  • Blood clots that stop the flow of blood through a blood vessel. This causes blood to pool behind the clot.
  • Infection. The body often fights an infection by increasing blood flow to the area, which can result in edema.

The treatment for edema depends on the cause.

Current as of: June 4, 2014

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & David A. Szalay, MD - Vascular Surgery