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Idiopathic oedema of women 

Idiopathic oedema of women

Chapter:
Idiopathic oedema of women
Author(s):

John D. Firth

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199204854.003.1619_update_002

Update:

Chapter reviewed in April 2014 – minor alterations made, including comment on a recent study of non-surgical periodontal therapy.

Updated on 27 Nov 2014. The previous version of this content can be found here.
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date: 29 April 2017

Idiopathic oedema is an unsatisfactory label that is applied to women who complain of swelling, typically variable, with diagnosis requiring exclusion of known causes of oedema and (most authors would agree) demonstration of weight gain, from morning to evening, of more than 1.4 kg.

The cause of idiopathic oedema is (by definition) unknown: hypotheses include abnormal capillary permeability/leakage, re-feeding oedema, and diuretic-induced oedema. There is no clear relationship to the menstrual cycle. Even if not a primary cause, the use and abuse of diuretics can complicate and exacerbate the problem.

Management is difficult, but patients can be helped by a sympathetic approach from the physician and (1) encouragement to lose weight if they are obese; (2) avoidance of excess dietary salt; and (3) weaning from consumption of high doses of diuretics that can cause or exacerbate the tiredness, lethargy, weakness, and dizziness that are suffered by many.

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