Fluid seeping from legs - anyone seen this?

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My mother (86) who has multiple health problems (kidney disease, some CHF, diabetes, high blood pressure) has had fluid seeping from her leg the last few weeks, mainly at night when she's asleep. She kept insisting the roof was leaking above her bed, or the mattress was wet and her weight was causing the sheets to get wet when she laid down. Over Christmas Dinner (yuck) we finally discovered her pants leg wet and she hadn't even worn them in the bedroom. So her roommate wrapped her leg overnight and this morning her leg had seeped through the wrapping. There aren't any obvious wounds but there are some small reddish spots. I called her dr. and they advised to take her to the ER, but she won't go. Anyone have any experience with something like this? TIA Carla

Answers 1 to 9 of 9
Top Answer
This is common in swelling of the legs--the skin simply breaks down and serous fluid leaks out. It can be a cause of infection, and it's icky to look at, I know.

Doesn't matter if mom wants to go to the ER, this is serious and needs to be seen. If she won't go willingly, call 911 for transport. They'll deal with her. (Chances are, given the opportunity to travel by private car vs. an ambulance, she'll opt for the car.)

The small reddish spots may be the beginning of sepsis--don't mess around with this.
My father has congestive heart failure and has similar weeping from his legs and feet. It's a sign that his heart isn't moving fluid through his body. It's lymphatic fluid. I don't think there's anything for the ER to do. They said it's a sign of the final stage of his heart failing.
Carla, kidney disease and diabetes - if she doesn't get the legs treated, cellulitis and sepsis and amputation may be on the horizon. Scare her into ER if you have to - this is very serious!
Oh, Carla! Good thoughts and prayers!

At some point it's not " would you like to...?" It's " now were going to...", or
" would you rather go in the car or the ambulance?"


I once said to my mom " you're too smart to do something this stupid" ( not get her breast cancer dealt with). She was mad at me for months, but it got her to the right place. Blessings to you both!
CHF, VEINOUS INSUFFICIENTLY causing fluids to build up in her lower extremities, Lymphadema, are often the culprit, but Many other diagnosis can cause this type of symptom too. Remember, just as fluid can build up in the extremities, it can also build up in the abdomen and around the heart sack. Her symptoms can go from bad to worse in a matter of minutes, so its nothing to play with!!! She needs to be seen Urgently to the ER, not the Drs office, no messing about!!! Her blood chemistry's need to be checked and followed as her symptoms come into better control. They will probably put her on a Lasix type med, to carefully pull the fluids off of her, as they determine the reason that this is happening to her, and how it can be better controlled.

Act fast, take care, and good luck!!! Don't take no for an answer, older folks always try to down play, what can be life threatening symptoms!!!!
If she won’t go to the ER at least have her evaluated by her PCP as soon as possible. Many seniors don’t want the embarrassment of the ambulance thing but will consent to a PCP visit.
Weeping can be caused by many things thus she needs to have labs and a look over. If you can, get her to weigh once a day at the same time to see if she is gaining fluid weight & bring that log to the PCP, but get her there and soon.
Thanks for the responses everyone. I persuaded my mother to go to the ER this morning and they checked her out and examined her legs to find the source of the fluid leakage. The doctor said there was no infection and it was just a side effect of the edema she typically has in her feet and legs for the last few years (from the kidney disease, CHF, etc?). It turns out that when she was hospitalized 6 months ago for CHF and shortness of breath, she was prescribed a second, stronger diuretic to use "as needed" when her legs were more swollen than usual. Unfortunately, she forgot about the second prescription and hasn't been taking it. This came out only in discussions with the doctor at the ER. She has usually been very good about taking her meds and knowing what she's supposed to take and when, so this had not occurred to me.

Anyway, I brought her home and found the lost prescription, and everyone is feeling a lot better about the situation. She has to have labs and a follow-up with her PCP next week.

Thanks all of you for pushing me in the right direction.
Carla, what a good outcome! Thanks so much for the update.

Kudos to you for getting mom the care she needs!
Per above answer, yeah, as a social worker I can recall one client who had this happen. She was a kind of larger lady, but the skin was breaking down and seeping, poor circulation and other health conditions a factor. Her legs were as wide as tree trunks, skin so taunt it was shiny...horrible. Once in the nursing home she was put on IV diuretics and the legs went back to normal size nearly. Good luck with it all...

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