Swollen Legs and Feet

One of the causes of swollen feet or legs is fluid accumulation. This condition is called Edema and it occurs when your body’s inter-cellular spaces retain fluid. Even though edema is most common in legs, feet and ankles, it can also make your whole body swell. The swelling can also be caused by certain medicines, trauma to those regions and health conditions. Have a look at some of the common causes as well as treatments for feet and leg swelling.

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Causes of Swollen Legs and Feet

1. Heart, Kidney or Liver Disease

If your ankle mostly swells in the evening, it could be a sign that water and salt are being retained because of heart failure on the right side of your heart. Kidneys are also known to cause ankle and foot swelling, and this is a sign that their functionality is not as it should be causing fluid building up in your body.

When to seek immediate medical attention:

If your swollen legs and feet are accompanied by other symptoms like appetite loss, weight gain, fatigue & tightness, pressure, and pain in the chest area, seek immediate medical attention.

2. Blood Clot

If the veins in your legs form blood clots, the heart will not be able to receive sufficient blood from the return blood flow and this can result in swollen feet and ankles. The blood clots can either be deep (deep vein thrombosis) or superficial (just underneath the skin). Having either of these clots can end up being life threatening especially if they travel to your lungs and heart after breaking loose.

When to seek immediate medical attention:

If one of your legs is swollen and painful, you have fever (low-grade), and the affected leg has changed color, you need to seek immediate medical attention.

3. Infection

If you have swollen legs and feet, there is a high likelihood that you are suffering from an infection. People who have a high risk of suffering from this infection are those with nerve problems of the feet or diabetic neuropathy. If you have diabetes, you should make a point of inspecting your feet daily for sores and blisters.

When to seek immediate medical attention:

If you identify a swollen blister or foot that looks infected, seek immediate medical attention.

4. Venous Insufficiency

This is a condition whereby inadequate blood moves from your feet and legs through the veins to your heart. Normally, veins enable blood to flow upwards using single-way valves. When the valves are weakened or damaged, blood will leak back hence retaining fluid in the lower-leg’s soft tissues, more so in the feet and ankles.

When to seek immediate medical attention:

Chronic venous insufficiency can cause skin ulcers, skin changes and also infection. If you have signs of venous insufficiency, seek immediate medical attention.

5. Lymphedema

This is a condition whereby the lymphatic fluid is collected in the body tissues, which can develop when there are problems with, or there’s absence of lymph vessels. It can also happen when your lymph nodes have been removed. The lymph fluid gets filtered by the lymph nodes and, therefore, unwanted substances are trapped.

When to seek immediate medical attention:

Since lymphedema is most common amongst patients who have undergone lymph node removal or radiation therapy, patients who experience swelling after these treatments should seek immediate medical attention.

6. Injury

If you injure your ankle or foot, you may experience some swelling. This is most common in people who have sprained their ankles. To reduce swelling following an injury, avoid walking on the foot or ankle that is injured. Also, use some ice packs on the swollen area. Wrap it with a compression bandage then elevate your foot on a pillow or stool.

When to seek immediate medical attention:

If the pain and swelling is severe and does not respond to home treatment seek immediate medical attention.

7. Pregnancy

It is normal to have swollen legs and feet during pregnancy. However, if the swelling is sudden and/or excessive, you could be suffering from preeclampsia. This serious condition is characterized by protein in urine and high blood pressure in your 5thmonth of pregnancy.

When to seek immediate medical attention:

If the swelling is severe and/or is accompanied by symptoms like headaches, nausea, infrequent urination, vision changes, vomiting and abdominal pain seek immediate medical attention.

8. Medication Side Effects

Swollen legs and feet can also be a side effect of some medications like hormones, calcium channel blockers, steroids, Antidepressants, NSAID’s and diabetes medication.

Remedies for Swollen Legs and Feet

Edema Home Remedies:

1. Elevation

Avoid walking on the swollen leg. When sitting, make sure that the leg is elevated above your heart. This will boost fluids to flow from the feet and legs.

2. Support Hose

Also known as compression gear, a support hose is used to prevent further swelling. A support hose also stimulates circulation.

3. Massage

Massaging your swollen legs and feet can work wonders. For those who are pregnant, go to a prenatal massage therapist because s/he will know more on the places to massage to make you feel comfortable.

Massage for Pregnancy Edema:

4. Salt Water Soak

When making a bath, you can add some Epsom salt to the water. However, since your feet and legs are the only ones that are swollen, you can take a bucket, add some water and salt then soak your feet and legs inside.

5. Essential Oils

Take a bucket with water and add some essential oils to the water. Soak your feet in the solution for a few minutes as you rub your feet upwards or in a circular motion, but not downwards.

6. Magnesium Supplement

Deficiency of magnesium can also cause swollen legs and feet. Therefore, take a magnesium supplement for relief.

7. Limiting Salty Foods and Salt

Excess salt also contributes to swelling. Therefore, take fluids to have the excess salt in the system diluted. Also, do not limit your salt, try to take just enough.

8. Less Sugar Intake

Excess sugar in your system can also cause swelling. Therefore, avoid taking foods with a lot of sugar e.g. energy drinks, cookies, cakes etc. If you have cravings, take a sweet fruit.

Natural Remedy to Reduce Swelling from Injury:

 
 
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