Symptoms of fluid retention plague up to 70% of women(1). That’s just over 17 million women in the UK. Although far fewer men present with fluid retention at the doctor’s surgery, it is not known whether this reflects a real difference between the sexes or just that men can hide symptoms more easily under clothing!(2)

Diverse symptoms makes advice difficult to find

Fluid retention is experienced by a vast number of women from those in their teens to those of post-menopausal age. For some the symptoms are with them all the time, whilst other women notice a worsening just before their period or after standing for a long time or after long-haul flights. Because the symptoms can be so diverse, from leg swelling and breast tenderness to puffy eyes and abdominal bloating, the condition can leave health practitioners at a loss to know what advice to offer(3).

Most women do not feel that they should bother their GP about symptoms of fluid retention because of the relatively mild nature of the problem. Those that do seek advice may find the treatment options rather limited. Diuretics (water tablets) are sometimes prescribed for medical causes of fluid retention, although unfortunately, these preparations have side effects and for the majority of sufferers with non-medical causes of fluid retention they are not suitable for long-term use(4). This means most women with non-medical fluid retention are left to endure this annoying problem.

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