How to prevent and improve Foot, Ankle or leg swelling?

Causes and Treatment of swelling or edema in feet, ankles or legs

leg swelling edema
Elevate the legs above the heart level to improve the leg swelling. Photo by Clarisse Meyer on Unsplash

Do you know what causes swelling in lower extremities?

There are many reasons that can cause swelling in legs. A few every one should know are varicose veins, medical conditions that cause accumulation of fluid like Congestive heart failure, liver failure, kidney failure, low protein or low albumin states due to malnutrition or disease, sitting with crossed legs causing blood supply to impede etc.

What ever the reason is, we should try to improve the swelling to prevent complications. Some complications of leg swelling are ulcers, infections, falls, chronic skin darkening etc.

Do not be scared reading about the different causes of leg swelling. If you notice swelling in otherwise healthy individuals, see if that individual is wearing tight clothes, or folding legs while sitting in chair in the office etc. If any of these simple things are causing the leg swelling, try to refrain from doing that and see if swelling improves or not. If not, elevate the legs above the heart level to see if the swelling improves.

Lot of people just sit in the chair or recliner and put a small stool in the front of the chair and lift the legs slightly. This position does not improve as the legs are not above the heart level horizontally. Elevating the legs above the heart level is easy in the bed when laying flat but not while sitting in the chair.

Crossing the legs can impede blood supply and cause swelling in legs. So, it is advised not to cross legs while sitting for prolonged periods.

If the swelling in the legs is associated with other symptoms or if the swelling in the legs is not going away easily, that is the time to see a doctor.

Basically, swelling in the legs is due to fluid [water] accumulation. Some disease like heart failure, kidney or liver failure, hypoalbuminemia etc cause fluid or water accumulation as the organs helpful in circulation and elimination are not functioning well. Those conditions need a complete physician’s evaluation and treatment.

I was talking about the fact that drinking plenty of water is not for everyone in my other post because of this issue. The water can accumulate in the body fairly quickly in patients with disease causing leg swelling and can lead to the next complication of shortness of breath due to fluid going in and around the lungs.

The excessive water in the body slowly climbs up from legs to the heart. When there is excessive water in the abdomen, it can cause early satiety, a feeling of bloating in the stomach and reduced appetite.

So, it is very important to get yourself checked yearly even though you are feeling healthy as minor signs of diseases can easily be noticed by a trained medical professional and prevent worsening of the problems.

One of my friends was getting blood work every year and noticed that Hemoglobin was dropping very slowly and upon further investigations, it was found out that my friend was suffering thyroid issues but did not have any symptoms yet.

One important caution is: If someone has swelling in the legs and feels bloated and also is short of breath, such persons will get more short of breath when they elevate the legs above the heart level.

Taking care of health is very important for everyone. Do not take any decision based on what this article or for that matter what others say. Always, consult your own doctor for questions about your health.

Hope this article gives some perspective about leg swelling and importance of preventing or getting treatment for it.


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