Dropsy is an old word for edema. It is also an infectious disease found in fish, which causes swelling in the body and scales. Dropsy was first used sometime between 1250 and 1300 A.D.
Dropsy, or edema, in humans is a swelling of any soft tissue that is caused by an excess amount of water in the body. It is common to specify the cause when identifying edema. For example, a patient can have edema due to congestive heart failure or periorbital edema, which is edema of the eyes. One common form of edema occurs in the feet and lower legs of people who stand upright for most of the day.