Edema involves swelling due to surplus fluid trapped within the bodily tissues. Even though it affects all parts of the body, one of the initial indications of edema is the presence of swollen feet.
Although a low intake of protein might be one of the potential causes of edema, a doctor should be consulted to determine the exact cause. There is a possibility of a serious medical condition if the swollen feet are accompanied by other symptoms such as abdominal bloating and facial puffiness.
Possible causes of edema
It is important to note that edema can develop in individuals of all ages. Some of the usual causes include the following:
- Low or high blood pressure
- Side effects of certain medications
- Hormonal changes during menstruation or pregnancy
- Consumption of salty foods
- Standing or sitting for extended periods of time
Always bear in mind that the presence of edema should not be taken lightly since it might be an indication of severe medical conditions such as liver cirrhosis, congestive heart failure, weak veins in the legs or kidney damage.
Link with protein
As the blood circulates throughout the body, it places pressure in the blood vessels that can force fluid out into the tissues. A protein in blood, specifically albumin prevents the fluid from seeping out and building up in the tissues. Nevertheless, if the levels of serum albumin are low, it could not perform its function in maintaining fluid balance, thus the fluid leaks out into the adjacent tissue.
If an individual sits or stands throughout the day, the fluid has the tendency to accumulate in the lower extremities which results to swollen feet and ankles.
Causes of protein deficiency
A simple cause for the development of edema is protein deficiency which leads to a diminished ability of the body to produce serum albumin. Low consumption of protein, starvation, liver disease or reduced absorption are the usual reasons for low serum albumin levels. On the other hand, the increased loss of proteins from the skin, feces or urine can also lead to diminished levels.
Management of edema due to protein deficiency
Once the doctor rules out all possible medical causes for the edema, increasing the protein intake is recommended. A diet that includes fish, lean meats and poultry are recommended since these are good sources of protein.