Swelling is the enlargement of organs, skin, or other body parts. It is caused by a buildup of fluid in the tissues. The extra fluid can lead to a rapid increase in weight over a short period of time (days to weeks).
Swelling can occur all over the body (generalized) or only in one part of the body (localized).
Slight swelling (edema) of the lower legs is common in warm summer months, especially if a person has been standing or walking a lot.
General swelling, or massive edema (also called anasarca), is a common sign in people who are very sick. Although slight edema may be hard to detect, a large amount of swelling is very obvious.
Edema is described as pitting or non-pitting.
Mitchell RN. Hemodynamic disorders, thromboembolic disease, and shock. In: Kumar V, Abbas AK, Fausto N, Aster JC, eds. Robbins and Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa:Saunders Elsevier;2009:chap 4.
Clein LJ. Edema. In: Walsh D, Caraceni AT, Fainsinger R, et al, eds. Palliative Medicine. 1st ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2008:chap 160.
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