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Signs & Symptoms

The more common signs associated with fluid retention are described in the paragraphs below(3). You may find that you can only associate with one of these, or you might come to realise that you can relate to all of these situations to some extent or other.

Remember that friends and family may not be aware that you are suffering, since the symptoms can be too subtle for an outsider to notice – this doesn’t mean that your suffering should be regarded less seriously, since your quality of life can take a serious nose-dive during these times.

Breast tenderness and swelling*

You might encounter bust size changes at certain times – some women notice differences in the pre-menstrual part of their cycles. Feeling like you’re carrying extra weight at these times is uncomfortable and for some, means going up a whole bra size (or two).

Swollen ankles*

Your own ankles may resemble those of a traveller after an aeroplane journey, when, in fact, you’ve not set foot inside an aeroplane. Certainly flying and standing for long periods can make things worse. You might notice that the ankles are less ‘defined’, the ankle bones appear sunken and less obvious.

Difficulty putting on/taking off rings*

Having difficulty pulling off or putting on rings doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re putting on weight! Fluid retention often results in slightly puffier fingers – not something you can easily hide, but it can be a symptom of harbouring too much fluid.

Puffy skin around the knees*

Fluid retention that occurs around the knees can limit your choice of clothes and affect your self-esteem, especially in the warmer months. You may also feel that your legs are ‘heavy’, ‘tight’ or just generally cumbersome, particularly when walking or exercising.

Puffiness around the eyes*

You might think you look as if you’ve been partying too hard – when you haven’t! The delicate area surrounding the eye is prone to accumulating fluid; you might describe this unwanted effect as making you look ‘unrefreshed’ and tired.

Abdominal bloating*

You may notice changes in the size of your tummy (abdomen), which can lead to significant discomfort and embarrassment. Many women notice changes in the size of their abdomen in the pre-menstrual part of their cycle.
* Although most cases of fluid retention are not associated with medical conditions, a visit to the GP is always recommended when symptoms first appear or flare up so that more serious problems can be ruled out.
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