The blood vessels are important as they transport blood to body parts. Diabetes damages body vessels and makes them leaky. As a result, fluid starts to leak out of them and starts to collect in body tissues, which leads to fluid retention or edema.
Water retention or edema affects many people with diabetes. In this condition, water commonly collects in the:
There are three types of diabetes-related edema:
- Macular Edema – Water leaks into the center of your eye (retina). Fluids from the blood vessels leaking into the surrounding areas of the retina can affect the vision. A diabetic may find it difficult to read, see during the day or understand colors if they have macular edema.
- Pulmonary Edema – If one takes diabetes-related medications and has any heart disease, they may have this type of edema. Water collects in the lungs making it difficult to breathe. To treat this type of water retention, a doctor may suggest draining the water from the lungs by the use of a catheter – a thin pipe used to drain fluids from the body.
- Foot and leg edema – Water builds up in the ankle, foot and legs causing a painless swelling in the affected parts. If a diabetic is overweight, has a blood clot in the leg or has a leg infection, they may be running the risk of this kind of edema. This type of water retention is also common in elderly people.
Diabetes-related medicines, like Thiazolidinediones, can be responsible for water retention in the body. Also, if one has a kidney, liver or heart disease, chances of water retaining in the body are much higher.
Edema, if untreated, can have serious outcomes. It can usually be treated by changing medications. A diabetic should always talk to their doctor if they experience any unnatural swelling or weight gain.