Edema (eh-DEE-mah) is swelling due to the build-up of excess fluid in the body's tissues. More to Know Most often edema is found in the hands, arms, feet, ankles, or legs, but it can affect any part of the body, separately or as a whole. Signs of edema include stretched or shiny skin and dimples that remain in the skin after pressing down for 5 seconds. Many things can cause edema, like sunburn, insect bites and stings, and even some medicines. Certain diseases of the heart, liver, kidneys, and thyroid also can cause edema. Treatment of edema depends on what's causing it. It may be as simple as taking an antihistamine if due to an allergic reaction. Or, if it's related to the heart or kidney, a doctor might recommend taking a medicine called a diuretic (or water pill) to reduce swelling. Also, wearing support stockings or cutting back on salt intake can help. If another condition, like a liver or thyroid problem, is causing edema, the doctor will treat that, too. Keep in Mind Edema can be a temporary nuisance or a sign of a more serious problem. It should be evaluated by a health care provider to determine the cause. If you see signs of edema along with difficulty breathing or chest pain, call 911 or go to the emergency room right away. All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts. Back to Articles Related Articles Bug Bites and Stings Most bug bites and stings are just annoying. But some can cause infections and allergic reactions. It's important to know what to watch for, and when to get medical attention. Read More Allergies Your eyes itch, your nose is running, you're sneezing, and you're covered in hives. The enemy known as allergies has struck again. Read More Kidney Disease Sometimes, the kidneys can't do their job properly. In teens, kidney disease is usually due to infections, structural issues, glomerulonephritis, or nephrotic syndrome. Read More Food Allergies and Food Sensitivities Find more than 30 articles in English and Spanish about all aspects of food allergies in children. Read More All About Allergies Millions of Americans, including many kids, have an allergy. Find out how allergies are diagnosed and how to keep them under control. Read More What Is the Thyroid? Do you know just how important the thyroid is? It helps you grow and affects your energy level. Read More Kidneys and Urinary Tract The kidneys perform several functions that are essential to health, the most important of which are to filter blood and produce urine. Read More Your Kidneys You need at least one kidney to live. Find out why in this article for kids. Read More Kidneys and Urinary Tract The bean-shaped kidneys, each about the size of a child's fist, are essential to our health. Their most important role is to filter blood and produce urine. Read More Food Allergies Doctors are diagnosing more and more people with food allergies. Knowing what to expect and how to deal with food allergies can make a big difference in preventing serious illness. Read More Food Allergies Struggling with strawberries? Petrified of peanuts? Sorry you ate shellfish? Maybe you have a food allergy. Find out more in this article for kids. Read More Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.