What is edema?

Edema is the medical term for fluid retention/swelling. It is a general response of the body to inflammation or sustained injuries. Edema may occur in the legs or in the whole body. Medications, infections, pregnancy, and many medical problems may cause edema. Edema can occur when small blood vessels “leak” and release fluid into nearby tissues. The extra fluid accumulates, causing the tissue to swell. A sprained ankle, a bee sting, or a skin infection, for example, will all lead to edema in the affected area. In some cases, such as an infection, this may be advantageous. The extra fluid from the blood vessel ensures that more infection-fighting white blood cells reach the affected area. Edema can also arise from disorders or problems in the balance of substances, which are normally present in the blood.


Edema and compression stockings

The treatment of edema of the leg with compression stockings is dependent on the cause and severity of the edema. If there is relatively harmless edema, then a compression stocking pressure class 2 will be sufficient. If there is severe edema, than the treatment is more complex. This treatment is called ambulatory compression therapy. Ambulatory compression therapy consists of two phases. In the first phase, the leg is bandaged with adhesive plaster bandages in order to remove the moisture in the legs. This should be continued until the leg is slender and only then one can take measure of the compression stocking. In the majority of cases, this is a compression stocking pressure class 3 or higher.


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