You might notice you're a bit more bloated than usual come Sunday morning, as a wild Saturday night can definitely lead to some extra water weight, but if you're chronically retaining too much body fluid, it could definitely indicate a larger problem. As with any strange body change, it's best to see a doctor to rule out any dangerous medical conditions or receive a better diagnosis. While some causes are harmless (and just super annoying), others can be scary if left untreated, so booking that appointment should be top priority.
As a certified health coach, I work with clients on feeling comfortable in their bodies and having high self-esteem. When you're bloated, you might feel more insecure or more fatigued, leading to a blah sort of mood. When you're feeling down, it can negatively impact your wellbeing, health, and productivity at work. So, if you're holding onto excess fluids, think about what could be causing it and take a few lifestyle adjustments to heart in order to tame the inflammation. Such inflammation can come from many areas, and a doctor might be a good guide in targeting the root of the issue. Here are 15 warning signs your body is holding onto too much water weight and fluids.
1. Kidney Disease
According to Leslie Spry, MD, FACP, on Huffington Post, many people don't realize that their kidneys aren't functioning properly, without getting checked by a doctor. A major symptom of having kidney disease can be an increase in bloating and fluid retention, so if it occurs somewhat suddenly and without other reasoning, get your levels checked.
"When I worked in clinical dietetics, I saw a lot of edema (aka fluid retention) in patients who were suffering from an underlying condition which manifested in extreme swelling," says Elizabeth Ann Shaw, MS, RDN, CLT, over email with Bustle. "It's important if you have a history of kidney disease, diabetes or other cardiovascular conditions you work with your physician to discuss the proper diet and medication regimen to prevent fluid retention, which can often be very uncomfortable too," Shaw adds.
3. Inflammation From Injuries & Joint Pain
According to experts at Healthline, if you're facing an injury that just won't seem to go away (like that swollen ankle, weakened knee, or pinch in your back), it could lead to chronic inflammation and swelling around the area. This can persist as it heals.
If you're just getting off a plane and feel swollen, it's totally normal and should subside within a day or two at most, explained experts at Mayo Clinic. This shouldn't be worrisome; however, if you don't get up and move during the flight, it could lead to a more serious issue: a blood clot. Take a few breaks to move those legs during the flight, and it shouldn't be a problem.
5. Crohn's Disease
"Signs include diarrhea, weight loss, anemia, and fatigue," says Kristen Johnson Brogan, Chief Nutritional Officer at On Target Living, over email with Bustle. "Crohn's disease is a chronic inflammatory disease of the digestive tract, and Crohn's treatment consists of lifestyle changes, such as exercise and a healthy diet, as well as over-the- counter antidiuretics and prescription anti-inflammatory medication," Brogan adds. Check with your doctor if you're concerned.
6. Stomach Pain & Enlarged Belly
"Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that affects the large intestine (colon). Irritable bowel syndrome commonly causes cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation," says Brogan. "Some people can control their symptoms by managing diet, lifestyle and stress. However, chronic IBS can lead to more severe conditions like inflammatory and digestive related diseases," Brogan cautions. Even outside of IBS, if you have tummy pains or an enlarged stomach, it could be a sign, says Brogan. Check with your doctor for a diagnosis.
7. Not Sleeping On A Regular Schedule
"If you only wake up to an alarm clock and then need to 'sleep in' on the weekend, you are running on tired," says Karen Grosz, Inner Vitality Health Coach, over email with Bustle, and this can lead to excess fluid retention due to stress and imbalances. "Your priority should be to go to sleep and get up at the same time each day, 7 days a week. Your body runs on a circadian rhythm, and when that is out of balance other body functions become imbalanced," Grosz explains.
8. A Salty & Processed Diet
"Foods that contain table salt or MSG can lead to unwanted water retention and bloating. This can be restaurant food such as Chinese take out, french fries, Brazilian steak house, or it can be store bought food such as frozen entrees, canned foods, etc," says Tyson Chartier, Reebok trainer and expert, of SITYODTONG, over email with Bustle. "However, foods that contain sea salt or sodium bicarbonate don’t have that same effect," Chartier says. Chartier recommends having cucumbers, celery, cabbage, dandelion greens, and watermelon. "These foods are high in water, electrolytes and fiber and have the added benefit of inducing diuresis (they make your urinate)," Chartier says.
9. Eating Too Many Green Veggies
As if you could ever imagine that you can eat too many green veggies, but actually, Dr. Lisa Ashe, Medical Director of BeWell Medicine, explains over email with Bustle, that eating too many cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, etc.), can lead to excess fluid retention and bloating. Be wary of portions, so you don't overdo it.
10. Eating Too Fast
Ashe says that if you eat too quickly, as many people do, you can become more bloated and hold onto excess water weight. Instead, try and slow down and be more mindful. Take in the senses and put the fork down between bites, if that helps. You'll see the fluid retention slowly go away.
11. Weight Fluctuations Post-Workout
According to Pam Nisevich Bede, MS, RD, a sports dietitian with Abbott’s EAS Sport Nutrition, over email with Bustle, if you're not drinking enough or even drinking too much fluids, you can throw your sodium and electrolyte balance off, leading to excess fluid retention. It can even be pretty dangerous, resulting in hyponatremia, Bede warns. This can appear even after a workout, when you're too dehydrated or when you've had too much to drink, adds Bede.
12. Swelling in Ankles & Legs
According to Shaw, if you see swelling in ankles or legs, you might be retaining too much fluid. If you notice the imprint of your sock, for instance, or an imprint of a finger when you're touching your lower half, it could be an indicator of excess water weight.
13. Stretched & Shiny Skin
"Stretched, tight or shiny skin," could be a clear sign that you're holding on to too much water, and the fluid is causing a buildup underneath the surface of your skin, explains Maggie Moon, MS, RDN, and author of the MIND diet, over email with Bustle. Look for any color or texture changes to know.
14. Clothes Feeling Tight
If your clothes, rings, and other shoes and accessories feel tight on your skin, it could mean that you're retaining excess fluid, says Moon. Pay attention to this feeling, and figure out how commonly it's occurring to better understand your situation and what might be causing the water weight.
15. Lack Of Urine
Moon cautions against a lack of urine, as it can mean that you're dehydrated and could be more bloated than usual. If you're not going to the bathroom enough, or you find that when you try, it's hard to pee (or your pee is super yellow and scarce), it could be clear indicator of excess water retention.
If you notice any of these symptoms, see a physician for help. Consider making a few lifestyle tweaks that can beat the bloat and make you feel more at ease.