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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Idiopathic edema


* Not a rare disease
Other Names for this Disease
  • Cyclical edema
  • Fluid retention syndrome
  • Idiopathic cyclic edema
  • Idiopathic orthostatic edema
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Your Question

I was diagnosed with idiopathic cyclic edema one year ago. I'm unable to find any information about this disease. Can you please help me?

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What is idiopathic edema?

Idiopathic edema is a common cause of swelling (edema) in women under age 50.[1] "Idiopathic" means that the cause of this condition is unknown. Idiopathic edema is characterized by salt retention in the absence of heart, kidney, or liver disease.[2] The edema may develop periodically or it may persist over time. Swelling of the face, hands, and legs can develop rapidly, and affected individuals typically experience significant changes in their weight over the course of a day. Obesity and depression can be associated with this condition.[1] Spironolactone may be used to treat idiopathic edema.[1]
Last updated: 12/9/2008

What treatment is available for idiopathic edema?

According to a review article on leg edema,[1] spironolactone is the preferred drug for treating idiopathic edema. If this drug is not effective, the authors suggest that low doses of a thiazide diuretic (for example, hydrochlorothiazide) may be added. This article recommends that the diuretic be taken in the early evening and states that loop diuretics should be avoided. Other suggested measures include lying down periodically throughout the day, avoiding environmental heat, maintaining a low salt diet, and avoiding excessive fluid intake. Losing weight may improve symptoms in obese individuals.

Other reported treatments for idiopathic edema include the herb ginkgo biloba, the blood pressure medicine Captopril, and progesterone, which is found in birth control pills.[3]
Last updated: 12/9/2008