Before the recent war, medical literature contained frequent references to the type of edema now recognized as "war edema." With the clinical picture in mind presented by meager reports that have appeared in the American1 and British scientific journals of recent publication, a somewhat extended study of wars, famines and epidemics of the past has proved fruitful in bringing to light evidence of the prevalence of edema of this type under varying conditions of insufficient and inadequate food. This edema resembles that of renal disease. In mild cases it may be confined to the lower limbs, but in the severe type the edema may extend to all parts of the body. There is no albuminuria. Accompanying this edema there are emaciation, muscular weakness, depression, anemia, and very frequently gastro-intestinal disturbances.
While the term war edema is not found in early medical literature, there is much evidence that the condition
MAVER MB. NUTRITIONAL EDEMA AND "WAR DROPSY". JAMA. 1920;74(14):934–941. doi:10.1001/jama.1920.02620140008003