Water or fluid retention is a common but often unwelcome issue.

The condition occurs when fluid escapes from the circulatory system and is retained between the cells of the body.

In normal circumstances, the lymphatic system would drain this fluid from the body by depositing it back into the bloodstream. The body also uses a complex system of hormones and hormone-like substances to maintain its optimal fluid volume.

Depending on your hydration levels, this process will either attempt to expel excess water or retain water if you are dehydrated.

All clogged up

Water or fluid retention occurs when the lymphatic system cannot adequately remove this excess fluid and bodily tissues retain it, which causes swelling.

The most common parts of the body where we tend to see localised fluid retention include the feet and legs, but it can also occur in the hands, arms, abdominal cavity and around the lungs.

The most common causes of fluid retention include inactivity, electrolyte imbalances or hormonal changes, particularly those associated with pregnancy and PMS.

Other causes include laxative overuse, medicine interactions, sunburn, heat exposure, allergic reactions, and nutritional deficiencies, among others. Various serious conditions involving the heart, liver, kidneys or blood vessels can also cause this condition.

Water retention symptoms:

  • Feelings of puffiness, especially the feet, ankles and legs
  • Appearance of shiny stretched skin
  • Dimples/indentations upon pressing the skin
  • Swollen, stiff and painful joints
  • Headaches
  • A bloated or enlarged abdomen
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Decreased flexibility of the joints (ankles, wrists and fingers)
  • Sudden or rapid weight gain

Fluid retention can also cause weight fluctuations, which often accounts for the variable weight readings we get on a day-to-day basis when we step on the scale. And water retention can affect body composition assessments when using the bioelectrical impedance testing method as the additional fluid in the body can result in inaccurate readings.

Treating fluid retention

Water pills or diuretics can help you prevent fluid retention and reduce swelling. These supplements and prescribed medications (for severe cases involving hypertension, heart conditions, kidney problems and idiopathic oedema) work via different mechanisms.

Water pills in supplement form typically contain a blend of natural ingredients that can help you shed the excess water that is making you feel or look bloated.

In general, these types of diuretics help your kidneys produce more urine to flush excess water or salt (sodium) from your body.

For example, NPL Water Cuts Electrolyte Balanced Diuretic contains a hydro diuretic complex of herbal extracts and natural ingredients that promotes rapid water loss to reduce bloating and enhance muscle definition.

USN PhedraCut Water X is another advanced diuretic supplement, formulated with natural, premium ingredients designed to reduce water retention and bloating by increasing urinary output. These ingredients include Horsetail Extract, Dandelion Root Extract, and Juniper Berry Root Extract.

Prolonged use

However, this effect is only temporary. Once you stop taking diuretic supplements, your kidneys will start reabsorbing the normal amount of water and salt for your body, and you’ll go back to your normal body weight soon after you stop taking them.

And prolonged use is not recommended as this can cause dehydration, which can result in lightheadedness or dizziness, and may worsen kidney function over the long term.

Prolonged diuretic use can also cause diuretic-induced oedema. This is a condition where your kidneys will eventually compensate and start retaining water and sodium rather than expelling it, which causes swelling.

As such, always stick to label recommendations regarding dosage and usage. And always consult your doctor before treating any fluid retention to determine the cause and the appropriate treatment to get rid of the extra fluid.