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How to Treat Water Retention

Updated February 21, 2017

Water retention can be caused by hormonal fluctuations, dietary intake of salt, certain medications, not drinking enough water, kidney problems and congestive heart failure. Treatment for urinary retention may be simple or complicated. Urinary retention may cause bloating, swollen feet and ankles, puffy eyes, and sore and swollen fingers. You need to treat water retention and the cause because you risk cardiac or kidney problems if you do not. There are steps you can take to treat water retention.

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  1. See your doctor. You need a physical examination so your doctor can rule out serious causes of water retention such as kidney disease or heart problems. Your doctor may examine your ankles, abdomen and fingers to check for signs of oedema, or swelling. Your doctor may recommend further medical tests such as blood tests, cardiac tests or X-rays of your kidneys.

  2. Ask about diuretic medication. Your doctor may prescribe a diuretic, or "water pill" to get rid of excess fluid retention. When you take diuretic medication you will urinate more frequently. This will treat water retention and decrease swelling.

  3. Drink plenty of water. When you do not drink enough water, your body will become dehydrated. When your body feels threatened by dehydration, it begins to hold on to every drop of fluid it gets, causing water retention. When you drink enough water, your body will not hold on to fluids.

  4. Eat healthy. Diets high in fruits and vegetables promote adequate elimination. When you do not get enough fruits and vegetables, you become bloated and retain water.

  5. Drink a cup of coffee. Coffee contains caffeine, which is a natural diuretic and will promote water loss. Do not drink too much, because coffee can cause nervousness, palpitation and insomnia.

  6. Tip

    Take a magnesium supplement. Taking magnesium helps treat water retention. Do not take magnesium if your have heart or kidney problems. Take 200 to 400 mg. per day. Check with your doctor before taking magnesium supplements.


    If you swell up, or experience chest pain, difficulty breathing or coughing, get emergency medical attention. This may indicate congestive heart failure and you will need rapid treatment to get rid of the excess body fluid that may be in your lungs and surrounding your heart.

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Things You'll Need

  • Physical examination
  • Diuretic medication
  • Plenty of water
  • Healthy diet
  • Coffee

About the Author

Meadow Milano

Meadow Milano has been a registered nurse for over 20 years, with extensive experience in emergency nursing, labor and delivery and general medicine. She has written numerous articles for nursing publications pertaining to health and medicine, and enjoys teaching in the clinical setting.

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