How to Reduce Water Retention Fast

How to Reduce Water Retention Fast

Many of us may have had bouts of this, especially as we get older. Whilst water retention doesn’t sound like a serious issues, it can be a great discomfort and prevent a person from being active. It can often feel permanent, with some having extended or reoccurring bouts of swelling. There are ways to bring back some normalcy to those joints and affect areas, though.

In this article we’ll be looking at not just ways to reduce water retention in your body, but quick-acting methods. A few lifestyle may put you on the right track to a speedy recovery – it’s simpler than you might think. Before we get into things, we need to examine what exactly water retention is.

What is Water Retention?

Laconically, water retention is what it sounds like: a build-up of fluids under the skin, commonly in the ankles, feet and legs (although it can happen elsewhere). As the body is made up of almost 70% water, that’s a lot of potential retained water to stiffen joints and cause swelling. It’s fairly easy to identify; look out for red, puffy skin that stays indented after being poked. These areas are usually also tender and painful.

There’s no single cause of water retention. Things like lack of activity, poor diet, obesity and kidney issues can make fluid collect. Certain physical injuries to blood capillaries or the lymphatic system, infections and insect bites can cause excess swelling, too. In short: there’s a lot that can trigger retention, especially as we get older and less inclined to exercise.

This sounds all doom and gloom, but luckily there’s plenty that can be done to ease water retention, both in the short and long-term. What’s even better is that many of these solutions are easily done at home, with practically no medical intervention. Let’s have a look at how you can get started on getting rid of that water:

How to Reduce Water Retention Fast


It seems counterintuitive since water retention causes joint stiffness, but exercise is great for getting fluid moving again. We’re not even talking about major, strenuous fitness regimes either; a short walk or bicycle ride is enough to start the reduction process. It’s common knowledge that water and fluids play a big role in the body’s ability to exercise, but what is it about your workout that gets things flowing again?

Exercise gets blood flowing around the body faster than while at rest. That increased blood flow transports fluids into the muscles, including any water that’s being retained. That water is also lost through the sweat and excess urine created during exercise.

A 30-minute walk several times a week is roughly in line with current exercise guidelines, making it a great start to try and reduce swelling. If you can’t quite manage this, try to walk as long as is comfortable without pushing yourself too far – if the pain is too much then stop or take a break. You could even start with exercises you can do at home to raise your pulse, like chair exercises or yoga. The great thing about all this that it also helps alleviates one of the causes of water retention: spending too much time sitting or being inactive.

Although this affects the water trapped in your body, remember that you still need to drink a healthy amount of water.

Reduce Salt and Sodium Levels

One chemical that is often linked to water is sodium chloride, better known as salt. We know it as something that makes you thirsty after eating it, but in the body, sodium is linked to fluid level maintenance. Issues arise when there’s too much in your system: high sodium can cause fluid to be retained, further exacerbated by other mechanisms in the body trying to compensate for it. Those two things combined may result in the swollen sores and joint pain we know as water retention.

The fix to this seems simple: reducing the amount of salt in your diet. It sounds easy, but for many of us salt is prevalent in our diets. Being a preservative, salt is found in high levels in many processed foods, like microwave meals and frozen foods. With these foods being quick and cheap, there’s a section of the population that leans on these kinds of foods, which can make it a little more difficult to replace. Even cutting down on these foods – checking the labels when you’re shopping – combined with other water retention reduction can make a difference.

Alongside this, certain foods simply have high levels of sodium that can be reduced:

  • Meat, especially cured and smoked meat
  • Pizza
  • Many different kinds of tinned food
  • Cheese
  • Condiments like ketchup and mustard
  • Any foods high in salt content

Doing your best to avoid these kinds of food will not only help water retention issues, but lead to better general health overall. High salt and sodium levels can cause high blood pressure and kidney stones, amongst other issues.

Dandelion Supplements

Yes, the weeds that plague your garden may be able to reduce the swelling in your joints, although you might want to stick to tablets instead of eating them fresh. Dandelion supplements have been recommended by many for water retention for a while now, because of a unique effect it has on the human body – it acts as a diuretic.

What’s a diuretic? You might have heard tea and coffee being described as one. They speed up how quickly water is processed and urine is created. Simply put: they make you pee more. Naturally, too high a concentration of diuretics in the body leads to dehydration. In this case, they can support the draining of areas that have retained water in the body, as this will be expelled from the body in urine.

The diuretic effects of dandelion have some scientific support behind them: one study found dandelion significantly increased urination frequency 5 hours after its first dose. This then helps the body re-equalise its water levels across the body. Once again, it’s important to drink enough water while taking dandelion, since you’ll be also expelling from across your body, which will need replacing.

Other Methods

There are some other smaller things you can do to help speed up your water retention recovery and reduce swelling.

Keeping your affected areas raised while sitting and sleeping improves fluid drainage in those areas. Where you can, lay down and raise the swelling above your heart to achieve maximum benefit. Those areas should be dressed comfortably too: loose fitting trousers and socks, or wider shoes with soft soles.

Including more trace elements in your diet can also help with water retention. Elements like magnesium and potassium are part of a collection known as electrolytes. These are important to athletes, since they play a role in hydration and are lost in sweat. In those with water retention, they can assist with water levels similar to sodium, but unlike sodium they’re less common in the majority of people’s diet.

Foods like spinach, whole grains, almonds and quinoa are rich in magnesium, while bananas, oranges, butternut squash and potatoes pack plenty of potassium.


With water retention, you have a toolset that can be utilised to help relieve swelling. This is all without having to visit the doctor, either – many of these points are lifestyle changes that can be made gradually and easily. What’s also great is that many of these changes will lead to a generally healthier lifestyle: an improved diet and being more active will have knock-on effects elsewhere in the body, alongside aiding fluid retention.

Be aware that some cases of fluid retention will require medical attention: if it persists longer than a few days or continues to worsen, visit your GP. Additionally, if you also exhibit symptoms like severe sudden pain, fever or very sudden swelling, call 111 immediately to receive advice on what to do next. This should also be your next step if you have diabetes alongside water retention.

If you’re concerned about any of the above advice, visit your doctor to learn more about how these changes can help and how to integrate them into your life.