When feeling bloated can be cause for concern

But what if your body retaining water is a sign of something more serious?

Puffiness from retaining too much water is frustrating. Nothing you wear seems to fit right, your joints are stiffer and you have the strong urge to label the scale a liar while simultaneously chucking it into the trash.

“Most causes of water retention are minor, like sitting for too long, eating too much sodium or taking certain medications,” says Dr. Brett Leiknes, a family medicine physician at Aurora Health Center in Manitowoc, Wis.

To reduce temporary water retention, Dr. Leiknes recommends limiting salt intake, eating a diet rich in magnesium (sources include beans, whole grains, nuts and leafy greens) and vitamin B6 (found in potatoes, walnuts and bananas), consuming an adequate amount of daily protein, wearing compression socks or elevating the feet.

If those at-home remedies fail to reduce swelling, you may want to talk to a doctor. Persistent swelling “could also be a sign of congestive heart failure,” says Dr. Leiknes.

Congestive heart failure occurs when the heart is not strong enough to transport sufficient amounts of blood – and by default, oxygen and nutrients – to nourish the body. Bloating subsequently can occur when the kidneys sense a lack of blood flow, prompting the body to hold onto an excess of water in hopes of increasing blood volume.

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