Many people will experience mild fluid retention, called oedema, throughout their lives, which may be indicated by puffy eyes, congestion in your nose, rings that don't fit on your fingers, a bloated belly or thick ankles, especially first thing in the morning. Mild fluid retention is often causal, and once you eliminate the cause, you eliminate the effect. Here's how to reduce fluid retention in the face or the body overall.
Limit salt and sugar intake. Salt and fluid retention go hand-in-hand, so avoid oversalting your food or eating salt-rich cuisine such as crisps, salted nuts, or packaged foods (microwave dinners or canned vegetables). And too much sugar raises levels of the hormone insulin, which then makes elimination of salt more difficult.
Exercise can help relieve fluid retention by sweating it out and increasing the need to urinate. Swimming is a good option because water pressure pushes fluid out of the tissues, as any diver knows, and into the bladder. Work out for 30 minutes at least three times a week, and if you have a desk job, get up once an hour to move and stretch your body.
Drink plenty of water. Dehydration is actually one cause of water retention. Though it may seem contrary, drinking six to eight 236ml glasses of water per day can reduce fluid retention in your body by diluting the urine, which makes it easier to eliminate salt. Plain water or water with lemon slices is best as almost all other beverages -- juice, soda, milk -- contain salt.
Sip herbal tea -- specifically parsley tea -- which has a mildly diuretic effect. Drink up to three cups a day. In general, for mild fluid retention, diuretics are unnecessary and may actually cause "rebound oedema," which is when the body temporarily retains more fluid as it tries to rehydrate itself after this sudden loss of fluid. But using a gentle one like parsley tea can be helpful for the short-term.
Massage the affected area. Rub firmly but not painfully in the direction of the heart, which gets excess fluid flowing away from the swollen area.
Elevate your head. Add an additional pillow to your bed to raise your head a few inches. Fluid tends to pool in the face while you sleep (which is why we often wake up with puffy features), so this method can help prevent fluid retention overnight.
If oedema affects your legs or ankles, elevate your feet rather than your head in bed.
See a doctor if your fluid retention is ongoing or if you can pit your skin (after pressing down on the skin it holds the indentation for a bit). It may be a sign of heart, kidney or liver disease.
Tips and warnings
- If oedema affects your legs or ankles, elevate your feet rather than your head in bed.
- See a doctor if your fluid retention is ongoing or if you can pit your skin (after pressing down on the skin it holds the indentation for a bit). It may be a sign of heart, kidney or liver disease.