We all know about the importance of water to us. We need it to survive, and we are supposed to drink enough of it to keep hydrated. Our bodies are made up of 60% water. But every once in a while, excess fluid can backfire and cause a number of medical issues.
Too much fluid in your body, and in your blood specifically, is called hypervolemia. We are going to take a look at everything you may ever need to know about the condition: what causes hypervolemia, signs and symptoms of hypervolemia, how it is treated, and how it can be prevented.
What Are the Causes of Hypervolemia?
So, what is hypervolemia? Too much fluid in the blood seems weird, doesn’t it? Blood is already a liquid, so how can you get too much fluid in your blood? As it turns out, there are a number of causes of hypervolemia, some of which are fairly common events that fall into two categories: excessive fluid or sodium intake or sodium or water retention.
1. Excessive Fluid or Sodium Intake
- Blood transfusion: A rapid blood transfusion can lead to a fluid overload.
- Intravenous therapy: If there is a rapid introduction of intravenous fluid, or if incompatible fluid is introduced to the body, excess fluid in the blood may occur.
- Excess dietary sodium: Fluid retention in the blood can be triggered if the sodium levels in your diet are excessive.
2. Water Retention / Sodium Retention
- Cirrhosis of the liver: Cirrhosis is when the liver stops functioning properly (which also can be caused by a number of factors). When the liver stops functioning properly, it can trigger hypervolemia.
- Heart problems: Heart problems can cause excess fluid in the blood. Heart congestion in particular, can slow the pumping of blood through the body which can lead to fluid buildup.
- Kidney problems: Certain kidney issues like nephrotic syndrome can interfere with the transfer of fluids in the body, which can cause the kidney to trigger hypervolemia. Glomerulonephritis can cause the kidney to excrete excess fluids that can also cause hypervolemia.
Now that we have seen some of the issues that can cause hypervolemia, it’s time to look at hypervolemia symptoms and signs to be on the lookout for.
Signs and Symptoms of Hypervolemia
There are a number symptoms and signs of hypervolemia that can be physically felt and seen.
Respiratory Issues: With the buildup of fluid, you may find that it’s harder to get a breath and breathe in general.
Urinary Problems: Fluid retention is a major cause behind hypervolemia, so the amount of fluid that you are taking in isn’t exiting the body in the form of urine. You may feel the need to go, but not much will come out.
Edema: Edema occurs when the fluid that you are retaining builds up in the body’s tissues, most often in the arms and legs.
Ascites: Similar to edema, ascites refers to the buildup of fluid in the abdomen.
Sudden Weight Gain: A case of hypervolemia can cause sudden weight gain as the extra fluid you are retaining will pack on more weight.
Breathing Issues: The buildup of fluid can cause noticeable breathing issues such as wheezing, shortness of breath and persistent coughing.
Moist Skin: All of the excess fluid you are carrying has to go somewhere. In this case, the fluid might start exiting through your pores, leaving your skin moist and clammy.
Rapid Pulse: Your pulse rate may go up due to your heart working overtime to deal with the increased fluid levels.
Jugular Vein Distention: Your jugular vein (in the neck area) may become more prominent due to the fluids that are building up.
High Blood Pressure: Hypertension is a regular symptom of hypervolemia as your circulatory system must deal with more weight and fluid.
You have all of the symptoms, and you’ve made your way to the doctor’s office. How is the doctor going to determine whether you have hypervolemia? Hypervolemia is mainly diagnosed by its symptoms. The doctor will also go over your medical history to look for things that could have triggered hypervolemia (if you have a history of liver or kidney problems, for example). Blood work and chest radiographs may also be used to take a look inside you and confirm the doctor’s suspicions. If you have been diagnosed, treatment can then begin.
The doctor has completed his diagnosis, and unfortunately, your fears have been confirmed. You are currently suffering from hypervolemia. The good news is that once it’s been diagnosed, it becomes fairly easy to treat. Hypervolemia treatments may include:
The doctor may prescribe to you diuretics in an effort to help drain some of the fluid from your body through natural body functions.
In the cases of extreme hypervolemia, hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis may be used to relieve you of the excess fluid in those systems.
3. Change of Diet
The doctor will most likely suggest that you adopt a low-sodium diet to help reduce any fluid buildup caused by excess sodium in your system.
4. Arteriovenous and Venovenous Hemofiltration
This is another mechanical way to filter the excess fluid from your bloodstream that targets the kidneys.
You’ve noticed the symptoms, you’ve gone to the doctor, and you’ve received treatment. Now, we’ll move on to prevention methods to make sure that this doesn’t occur again.
If you’ve dealt with hypervolemia or after reading this article, never want to have to deal with hypervolemia, you may be wondering what you can do to prevent it. Here are a couple helpful tips.
- Low-sodium diet: The buildup of excess sodium can help trigger hypervolemia, keep your sodium levels at a reasonable level.
- Watch your fluids: If you are going to have a blood transfusion or if you have any of the medical issues we described in the above sections, keep an eye on your fluids. Make sure you’re not retaining too much fluid, keep an eye on your urine to see if you are let out as much fluid as you are putting in.
Hypervolemia Needs Treatment!
When dealing with hypervolemia, vigilance is best—especially if you have any of the underlying health conditions that may lead to it. If you are struggling with liver or kidney issues, for example, the last thing you want is to deal with the additional issues that come with hypervolemia. If you notice that you are starting to show many of the symptoms of hypervolemia, seek a doctor immediately. The faster you get treatment, the better your body will be for it.