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Pathophysiologic approach to understanding and successfully treating idiopathic edema: Unappreciated importance of nocturia

      Abstract

      Idiopathic edema (IE), a disorder of females, is characterized by edema and weight gains exceeding 1.4 kg while assuming an upright position followed by nocturia and returning to a non-edematous baseline weight in the morning. There is no successful treatment of IE and the importance of nocturia needs to be emphasized. The major underlying abnormality is an increase in vascular membrane permeability (VMP). We present four cases with differing degrees of IE who were successfully managed by manipulating Starling's forces. While we could not alter the increase in VMP, manipulating oncotic and hydrostatic pressures between both compartments were untenable except to decrease intravascular hydrostatic pressure by sodium restriction. All four cases virtually eliminated daily weight gains and nocturia to improve quality of life considerably, two with the assistance of daily hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) and all four by furosemide to accelerate recovery from the weight gain to permit occasional dietary indiscretions to improve quality of life. Two cases with milder forms of IE did not quantify sodium intake as meticulously as cases one and four, who appeared to have greater increases in VMP. IE can be treated successfully by sodium restriction with or without use of HCTZ and furosemide to eliminate the distressing edema, weight gain and nocturia with marked improvement in emotional instability after understanding that the weight gains and nocturia were linked to dietary intake of sodium.

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