Why do legs and feet get swollen?

Here is something unusual! I’m pretty sure you must not be familiar with this! Have you heard of hypervolemia? Here in this article, you will get to know a lot about it. Come on a read through it and you will be amazed to know what it is!

Hypervolemia is a condition in which there is an excessive buildup of fluid in the body. It is otherwise known as fluid overload. The body fluids are primarily composed of sodium & water. When this level of fluid starts building up, it leads to an excessive circulating volume which can result in heart failure.

Some interesting facts about Hypervolemia:

  • ¨ The entire is made up of 70% of water which are distributed into various compartments.
  • ¨ The charged particles called electrolytes are responsible for the balance of total fluid in the body.
  • ¨ The sodium electrolyte has an electric charge that enables it to attract water.
  • ¨ Urination, perspiration, and defecation are various factors responsible for water loss in the body.

What causes hypervolemia?


Intravenous therapy:

  • This occurs when IV is used in rapid rate or in larger volume than what is actually needed.
  • When the administration of wrong IV is done it can cause an imbalance in the sodium levels in the blood.

Transfusion reaction by blood transfusion:

  • Transfusion reaction by rapid infusion or larger volume of blood may cause fluid overload.
  • LIVER CIRRHOSIS: Cirrhosis is when the liver stops functioning properly (which also can be caused by a number of factors). When the liver stops functioning properly, it can trigger hypervolemia.
  • HEART PROBLEMS: Heart problems can cause excess fluid in the blood. Heart congestion, in particular, can slow the pumping of blood through the body which can lead to fluid buildup.
  • KIDNEY PROBLEMS:Certain kidney issues like nephrotic syndrome can interfere with the transfer of fluids in the body, which can cause the kidney to trigger hypervolemia. Glomerulonephritis can cause the kidney to excrete excess fluids that can also cause hypervolemia.
  • Coughing and Difficulty Breathing: Shortness of breath is another sign of fluid overload. The heart is strained as it contends with the increased volume and fluid enters the lung which leads to difficulty with breathing. This difficulty breathing is worse when lying flat. Depending on the severity of the pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs),  a person may report a feeling of suffocation. There may also be persistent coughing which also may worsen when lying flat.
  • Lower Urine Output: Although the amount of urine passed out may be within normal limits, it does not correlate with the amount of fluid being consumed or administered. In other words, more water is entering the body than being expelled as urine without there being major fluid loss through sweating, vomiting or diarrhea. In some conditions, the urine output may be abnormally low or even cease altogether for periods of time.

Less important factors that contribute to fluid buildup in the body are as follows:

  • Hyperaldosteronism
  • Certain medications
  • Reaction to stress
  • Malnutrition

What are the symptoms of hypervolemia?

  • EDEMA: it is also called as swelling. It is a condition where there is a buildup of fluid in the legs and arms.
  • ASCITES: it is a condition where there is excess fluid buildup in the abdomen.


  • Strong and rapid pulse rate
  • Hypertension
  • Elevated central venous pressure
  • Increased pulmonary artery pressure
  • Low levels of hemoglobin
  • Jugular vein distention


  • Respiratory pattern changes
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Difficulty in breathing while lying down
  • X-ray results show pulmonary edema.
  • Urinary Problems: Fluid retention is a major cause behind hypervolemia. The amount of fluid that you are taking in isn’t exiting the body in the form of urine. You may feel the need to go, but not much will come out.
  • Sudden weight gain: one may experience a sudden gain in weight due to hypervolemia. This is because the extra fluid you are retaining in will add on to your weight.


Diagnosis of hypervolemia:


You have all of the symptoms, and you’ve made your way to the doctor’s office.  How is the doctor going to determine whether you have hypervolemia?


Hypervolemia is mainly diagnosed by its symptoms. The doctor will also go over your medical history to look for things that could have triggered hypervolemia especially if you have a history of liver or kidney problems.


Blood work and chest radiographs may also be used to take a look inside you and confirm the doctor’s suspicions. If you have been diagnosed, treatment can then begin.


Treatment or hypervolemia:

Suppose, the doctor has finished his diagnosis and your fears have been confirmed.   You are currently suffering from hypervolemia. The good news is that once it’s been diagnosed, it becomes fairly easy to treat. Hypervolemia treatments may include:

  • Dialysis:

Dialysis is a procedure to remove waste products and excess fluids from the blood when the kidneys stop working properly. There are 2 types of dialysis:

  • Hemodialysis
  • Peritoneal dialysis

Haemodialysis: it is the most common type of dialysis and the most type of dialysis that people are aware of. During the procedure, a tube is attached to a needle in the arm. Blood passes through the tube and through an external machine and filters it before it passes through the arm through another tube. This is usually carried out 3 times a week and each session lasts for about 4 hours.


Peritoneal dialysis: this uses the inside lining of your abdomen to filter rather than an external machine. Like the kidneys, the peritoneum contains a number of blood vessels making it a useful filtering device. Before the treatment starts, an incision is made near your belly button and a thin tube called catheter is inserted through it. This is left in place permanently.

The fluid is pumped into the peritoneal cavity through the catheter. As the blood passes through the cavity, wastes and other fluids are drawn out of the blood and into the dialysis fluid.


  • Change in diet:

Your doctor will suggest you follow a low-sodium diet that will help reduce the amount of fluid buildup in the body.


  • Arteriovenous & venovenous hemofiltration:

This is another way of filtering excess fluid from the body or bloodstreams targeting the kidneys.


Preventing Hypervolemia

If you’ve dealt with hypervolemia or after reading this article, never want to have to deal with hypervolemia, you may be wondering what you can do to prevent it. Here are a couple helpful tips.

  • Low-sodium diet:The buildup of excess sodium can help trigger hypervolemia, keep your sodium levels at a reasonable level.
  • Watch your fluids: If you are going to have a blood transfusion or if you have any of the medical issues we described in the above sections, keep an eye on your fluids. Make sure you’re not retaining too much fluid, keep an eye on your urine to see if you are let out as much fluid as you are putting in.


Hypervolemia Needs Treatment!

When dealing with hypervolemia, vigilance is best—especially if you have any of the underlying health conditions that may lead to it. If you are struggling with liver or kidney issues, for example, the last thing you want is to deal with the additional issues that come with hypervolemia. If you notice that you are starting to show many of the symptoms of hypervolemia, seek a doctor immediately. The faster you get treatment, the better your body will be for it.

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