Edema (swelling) treatment available online today

In order to treat your edema, consult with one of our board-certified primary care doctors online today to get a prescription to reduce swelling. Get a new prescription to treat edema or refill an existing prescription today.*

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Reduce fluid retention from Edema

Tailored Edema treatment online

Save up to 80% on your prescriptions* with RX discount card

*Prescriptions are provided at the doctor's discretion. Learn more about our controlled substances policy and how to save up to 80% with our prescription discount card. PlushCare doctors cannot treat all cases of edema. Our primary care physicians can conduct an initial evaluation of your symptoms but may need to refer you to a specialist or for in-person treatment. If you are experiencing life-threatening symptoms, seek emergency medical attention immediately.

Learn about edema (swelling)

Edema happens when fluid builds up in your body's tissues, often in your feet, legs, or ankles. Edema can also affect your hands, face, or any other part of the body.

Fluid retention can be the result of medication, pregnancy, or underlying health conditions. When edema is a sign of an underlying disorder, the underlying cause will require treatment.

There are several types of edema, including:

  • Peripheral edema: Peripheral edema usually affects the legs, feet, and ankles. This type of edema can indicate problems with your circulatory system, kidneys, or lymph nodes.

  • Pedal edema: Pedal edema affects the lower legs and feet, making it harder to move around. It primarily affects pregnant women and older adults.

  • Lymph edema: Lymphedema causes swelling in the arms and legs. It's often caused by damage to your lymph nodes or lymph vessels, which can happen due to radiation, surgery, or injuries.

  • Pulmonary edema: Pulmonary edema is a medical emergency. It happens when fluid builds up in the lungs, making it harder to breathe.

  • Cerebral edema: Cerebral edema is often a medical emergency and happens when fluid builds up in the brain due to head trauma, blocked blood vessels, or tumors. It can have serious complications.

  • Macular edema: Macular edema happens when fluid builds up in the retina, a structure in the back of the eye responsible for color and central vision. It is usually due to damaged blood vessels that leak fluid into the macula.

Edema (swelling) causes

  • Edema occurs when tiny blood vessels called capillaries leak fluid into the surrounding tissue and skin. When too much fluid builds up in your body's tissues, swelling occurs.

    There are several potential causes of edema. Some serious health conditions that can cause edema include:

    • Chronic heart failure

    • Kidney disease

    • Liver disease and cirrhosis

    • Thyroid disease

    • Blood clots

    • Severe allergic reactions

    • Certain cancers and cancer treatment

    Other less serious but bothersome causes of edema include:

    • Chronic venous insufficiency (varicose veins)

    • Obstructive sleep apnea

    • Prior lymph node surgery

    • Previous radiation treatments

    • Taking certain medications, such as calcium channel blockers 

    • Being sedentary for long periods of time, especially sitting at a desk or standing in one place

    Edema commonly occurs among pregnant women as fluid volume increases to support the pregnancy. However, rapidly developing edema can be a symptom of preeclampsia, which requires immediate medical care.

Edema symptoms

  • Because edema causes fluid buildup under the skin, the main symptom of edema is swelling. If you have edema, you might notice that the swollen area becomes puffy.

    Common symptoms of edema include:

    • Swelling under the skin, especially in the legs or arms

    • Shiny or stretched skin surrounding the swollen area

    • Skin that retains a dimple after pressing down the affected area

    • Difficulty walking if your legs, feet, or ankles are swollen

    • A tight or full feeling in your swollen body part

    • Coughing or trouble breathing

    *Disclaimer: You should seek emergency attention immediately if you are experiencing severe or life-threatening symptoms such as shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, or chest pain.

How to treat edema (swelling)

If you notice swelling, it's important to talk to your doctor to identify the underlying cause and get your edema diagnosed. Temporary edema can be improved by reducing your salt intake and elevating the affected limb.

Other helpful home remedies to reduce edema include:

  • Avoid processed foods that are high in salt.

  • Get regular exercise to keep blood flowing and prevent swelling.

  • Reduce your alcohol consumption and quit smoking.

  • Wear support (compression) stockings to increase blood flow.

  • Try acupuncture or massage therapy.

Edema medication

  • Depending on the underlying cause of edema, your doctor may prescribe medication to reduce fluid retention. Diuretics, such as hydrochlorothiazide or lasix can be especially helpful during early-onset edema if you have congestive heart failure or liver disease.

    Diuretics help the kidneys release more water and salt. It's important to use diuretics as directed, as removing too much fluid quickly can lower your blood pressure and decrease kidney function. 

    You'll need to empty your bladder more frequently when taking diuretics. However, other side effects are uncommon.

How to prevent edema

Since edema often occurs due to underlying health conditions, it's not always possible to prevent edema. However, you can take steps to lower your risk factors:

  • Stay physically active.

  • Eat a healthy diet and reduce salt intake.

  • Follow your doctor's advice regarding any conditions that cause edema.

  • Elevate your legs or move them if you sit or stand for long periods of time.

  • Wear compression/support socks or stockings.

When to see a doctor for edema

While fluid retention typically improves with home treatment, excess fluid can be a sign of a serious medical condition. If you notice swelling that persists for a few days, it's important to talk to your doctor.

Seek immediate medical attention if you experience:

  • Shortness of breath

  • Trouble breathing

  • Chest pain

  • Swelling that worsens, even after home treatment

  • Leg pain after sitting for long periods

  • Sudden edema during pregnancy

  • Swelling that is significantly worse on one side of the body compared to the other

Difficulty breathing and chest pain may be signs of pulmonary edema, which is a medical emergency. In addition, persistent leg pain may indicate a blood clot deep in your vein (deep vein thrombosis).

Edema (swelling) treatment FAQs

  • What is pulmonary edema?

    Pulmonary edema happens when excess fluid collects in your lungs. Pulmonary edema can make it difficult to breathe. You may also experience:

    • Rapid heartbeat

    • Coughing up foamy spittle

    • Feeling suffocated

    • Chest pain

    Pulmonary edema is a life-threatening emergency. Call 911 or seek immediate medical care if you experience any symptoms.

  • What is the best treatment for edema?

    The best treatment for edema depends on the underlying condition. Lifestyle changes and diuretics can be especially helpful for people with heart failure and liver disease.

  • How to drain edema fluid?

    You can drain excess fluid at home by reducing your salt intake and elevating the affected area.

    If swelling persists after home treatments, book a phone or video appointment with a virtual PlushCare doctor to discuss your symptoms. Your doctor can diagnose edema, identify any underlying conditions, and prescribe treatment if needed.

  • How much does edema treatment cost?

    The cost of edema treatment depends on the type of edema, severity, and underlying condition. Diuretic medications (also called "water pills") are often inexpensive and generic versions can help you cut costs. With a PlushCare membership, you can access our prescription discount card, allowing you to save up to 80% on qualifying prescriptions.

  • How can I treat edema at home?

    The best home treatments for edema include:

    • Move and use the parts of your body affected by edema, especially your legs.

    • Elevate the affected area above your head to encourage fluid drainage and reduce swelling.

    • Massage the affected area using firm pressure.

    • Wear compression stockings to prevent future swelling.

    • Reduce your salt intake and avoid processed foods.

  • Does edema go away by itself?

    Yes, mild edema usually goes away by itself, especially if you drain the excess fluid by elevating the affected area above your heart. More severe edema often requires medical treatment, such as diuretics, to reduce swelling and fluid buildup.

    If you have edema, book an appointment with a board-certified primary care PlushCare physician to discuss your treatment options. If needed, your doctor can prescribe diuretics online to treat edema.

3 simple steps to request treatment for edema today 

Step 1: Book an appointment

Step 1

Book an edema treatment appointment.

Book a same day appointment from anywhere.

Step 2: Visit with a doctor on your smartphone

Step 2

Talk to your medical provider regarding your edema symptoms.

Visit with a doctor on your smartphone or computer.

Step 3: pick up at local pharmacy

Step 3

Pick up a prescription to treat edema.

We can send prescriptions to any local pharmacy.

Related conditions to edema

  • Congestive heart failure

  • Kidney disease

  • Liver cirrhosis

  • Pregnancy

  • Premenstrual disorder

Edema treatment pricing details

How pricing works

To request edema treatment and get a new or refill on your prescription, join our monthly membership and get discounted visits.

Paying with insurance



First month free



30 days of free membership

  • Same-day appointments 7 days a week

  • Unlimited messages with your Care Team

  • Prescription discount card to save up to 80%

  • Exclusive discounts on lab tests

  • Free memberships for your family

  • Cancel anytime

Visit price with insurance

Often the same as an office visit. Most patients with in-network insurance pay $30 or less!

  • We accept these insurance plans and many more:

    • Humana
    • Aetna
    • Cigna

Paying without insurance



First month free



30 days of free membership

  • Same-day appointments 7 days a week

  • Unlimited messages with your Care Team

  • Prescription discount card to save up to 80%

  • Exclusive discounts on lab tests

  • Free memberships for your family

  • Cancel anytime

Visit price without insurance

Initial visits are $129.

Book an appointment

If we're unable to treat you, we'll provide a full refund.

Edema treatment resources


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PlushCare content is reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, nutritionists, and other healthcare professionals. Learn more about our editorial standards and meet the medical team. The PlushCare site or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.