Dropsy is an old term for the swelling of soft tissues due to excessive accumulation of water.
The term ‘dropesie’ is a Middle English term that comes from the Old French word ‘hydropsie’ that came from the Greek word ‘hydor’, which means water. Edema or oedema is another name for dropsy. Clinically, oedema means swelling. Swelling is the result of the abnormal accumulation of excess fluid in the interstitium (a small connective space between the cells of an organ or tissue), located beneath the skin and in the cavities of the body. It can cause severe pain. Oedema can also cause :
• Areas of skin that temporarily hold the imprint of your finger when pressed (know as pitting oedema)
• Aching, tender limbs
• Stiff joints
• Weight gain
Types of Oedema :-
• Peripheral oedema occurs mostly in the feet and legs. Pulmonary oedema occurs due to accumulation of excessive fluid in the interstitial air spaces in the lungs. An associated increase in the amount of fluid in the blood vessels of the lungs causes shortness of breath because the excess fluid from the lungs’ blood vessels leaks into the airspaces (alveoli) and interstitium in the lungs. This accumulation of fluid in the lung is called pulmonary oedema. Excess fluid sometimes collects in the cavities of the abdomen and is referred to as ‘ascites’ or in the chest referred to as ‘pleural effusion’. Ascites is a complication of cirrhosis and appears as an abdominal bulge. The peritoneum is the inner lining of the abdominal cavity, which also folds over to cover the organs inside the abdomen such as the liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas and intestine. Ascites develops because of a combination of two factors:
1) Increased pressure in the vein system that carries blood from the stomach, intestines, and spleen to the liver and
2) Low levels of the protein albumin in the blood (hypoalbuminaemia). Albumin, which is the predominant protein in the blood and which helps maintain blood volume, is reduced in cirrhosis primarily because the damaged liver is not able to produce enough of it.
• Cerebral Oedema affects the brain, whereas
• Mascular oedema affects the eyes.
• Anasarca is the disorder that occurs when there is severe widespread accumulation of fluid in all the tissues and cavities of the body at the same time.
• ‘Pitting’ oedema is observed when, after pressure is applied to a small swollen area, the indentation persists after the release of the pressure. In nonpitting oedema the pressure that is applied to the skin does not result in a persistant indentation. This oedema occurs because the build-up of blood in the veins of the legs causes leakage of fluid from the legs’ capillaries (tiny blood vessels) into the interstitial spaces.
Causes Of Dropsy : -
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