Hypervolemia occurs if your body retains too much fluid. You can experience swelling, discomfort, and other symptoms. Untreated, hypervolemia can cause severe complications, including heart failure.

Hypervolemia is the condition of having too much fluid volume in your body. While the body normally has a certain amount of fluids, too much fluid can damage your health.

Fluids in the body can include:

  • water
  • blood
  • lymphatic fluid

If the amount of fluid gets too high, it can impact how fluids are moved through your body and negatively affect your organ function.

Keep reading to learn the signs and causes of hypervolemia and how doctors diagnose and treat the condition.

The symptoms of hypervolemia can include:

  • swelling, also called edema, most often in the feet, ankles, wrists, and face
  • discomfort in the body, causing cramping, headache, and stomach bloating
  • high blood pressure caused by excess fluid in the bloodstream
  • shortness of breath caused by extra fluid entering your lungs and reducing your ability to breathe normally
  • heart problems, because excess fluid can speed up or slow your heart rate, harm your heart muscles, and increase the size of your heart
  • increased weight, caused by excess fluid

When it’s an emergency

If you experience severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, severe pain, or irregular heart rhythm, call 911 or your local emergency services, or visit a local emergency department.

Was this helpful?

Often, problems with your kidneys cause hypervolemia. This is because the kidneys normally balance the salts and fluids in your body.

But when they retain salt, they increase the body’s total sodium content, which increases your fluid content.

The most common causes of hypervolemia can include:

  • heart failure, specifically of the right ventricle
  • cirrhosis, often caused by excess alcohol consumption or hepatitis
  • kidney failure, often caused by diabetes and other metabolic disorders
  • nephrotic syndrome, a disorder that causes excess excretion of protein in the urine
  • premenstrual edema, or swelling that occurs prior to a woman’s menstrual cycle
  • pregnancy, which changes a woman’s hormonal balance and can result in fluid retention

You can also experience hypervolemia from being on an IV, which can cause your sodium levels to be unbalanced. It can also occur if you consume too much sodium.

If you believe you’re experiencing hypervolemia, talk with a doctor. They can determine if you’re experiencing this condition.

First, a doctor typically conducts a physical exam. The key signs of hypervolemia include weight gain and swelling. One or more parts of your body may appear swollen, depending on whether or not you have been sitting, lying, or standing before your visit.

The doctor is also likely to perform a blood test to check your sodium levels. While your body’s total sodium levels will looked elevated if you have hypervolemia, your sodium levels in the blood work may be high, normal, or low.

Performing a sodium test on your urine can help determine if your kidneys are causing your hypervolemia or if there is another cause.

For renal failure, urinary sodium content is typically greater than 20 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L), while in cases of heart failure, cirrhosis, and nephrotic syndrome, it is typically less than 10 mEq/L.

If you are hospitalized, your care team may measure your fluid intake and output and your weight to check for hypervolemia.

Untreated hypervolemia can cause several complications, some of which can be life threatening. These can include:

  • pericarditis, or swelling of the heart tissues
  • heart failure
  • delayed wound healing
  • tissue breakdown
  • decreased bowel function

Treatment of hypervolemia differs from person to person, depending on the cause of the condition.

Generally, people with hypervolemia may receive a round of diuretics. These medications remove excess fluid.

In severe cases, a doctor may recommend dialysis (fluid removal through the kidneys) and paracentesis (fluid removal through the belly).

The doctor may also require you to restrict your dietary sodium intake.

While you recover from hypervolemia, a doctor may request that you weigh yourself daily to ensure you’re expelling the excess fluid in your body.

Many people who stick to a doctor’s treatment plans fully recover. This can be important for preventing severe complications.

If an underlying condition is causing your hypervolemia, treating the underlying condition may help your recovery.

Besides monitoring your weight, you can prevent a recurrence of fluid overload by:

  • tracking your fluid intake
  • following the fluid intake guidelines from a doctor
  • managing your thirst with sugar-free candies, ice chips, frozen grapes, and other low-fluid, thirst-quenching foods
  • ensuring you do not consume too much sodium

Hypervolemia, or fluid overload, happens when there is too much fluid in your body. It can raise blood pressure, cause swelling, and impact organ function.

Doctors can diagnose and manage hypervolemia with medication, reduced fluid and sodium intake, and dialysis.

Many people with this condition can make a full recovery with proper treatment.