What Causes Swollen Feet And Ankles

What Causes Swollen Feet And Ankles

Any painless swelling of the feet or ankles, called oedema is the result of abnormal fluid accumulation in the tissues. This condition is most often seen in the lower parts of the body, especially the feet and ankles, so blame it on gravity!

Oedema is usually seen as an increased stretching and shininess of the swollen area of the skin, which dimples when gently pressed. Though it is a common problem, especially in the elderly, oedema does not run in families, nor is it possible to transmit it to others through close contact.

Oedema has many causes, some temporary and some permanent, some requiring simple mechanical interventions like keeping one’s legs raised to counter the effects of gravity, to others requiring urgent doctor’s attention for analysis of the underlying cause for proper redressal.

10 Benign Causes

Feet and ankle swelling can ring alarm bells in the mind of a patient and doctors alike, because the underlying causes may range from the innocuous to the more serious incurable diseases.

  1. Excessive salt intake
  2. Pregnancy
  3. Old age
  4. Prolonged standing
  5. Long-haul air flights or car rides
  6. Obesity
  7. Menstruation
  8. Local injury or infection
  9. Varicose veins.
  10. Certain medications like Amlodipine or oestrogens (in birth control pills)

Six Serious Causes

  1. Clots in the leg veins
  2. Hypertension in pregnancy (called pre-eclampsia)
  3. Heart failure
  4. Liver failure
  5. Certain kidney diseases like nephrotic syndrome
  6. Protein malnutrition

Four Home Remedies

  1. Lower the salt content of your diet
  2. Exercise your legs
  3. Raise your legs over the heart level while reclining
  4. Wear support stockings

Preventing Oedema

  • Avoid wearing restrictive clothing
  • Adopt some weight loss measures
  • Avoid standing or sitting without any movement for long hours
  • Take out time for stretching exercises and walking around while on long- haul flights or car rides

When To See The Doctor

  • If you notice a sudden increase in the degree of swelling, especially if you are pregnant
  • If you have an associated decrease in urine volume
  • Increased redness or pain over the area
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • History of liver/heart/kidney disease

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