There are millions of people in the world suffering from swollen feet, ankles or legs. In medical terms, this is called edema and it can appear due to a variety of causes, including some types of medication, like those for high blood pressure, anti-depressants or hormonal birth control. It isn’t necessarily the sign of a serious condition and you may be tempted to overlook it, thinking that if it’s only uncomfortable, there is no harm done.
But you shouldn’t underestimate the seriousness of this type of swelling, because while you may be completely fine, it may also be a symptom of another underlying issue, such as blood clotting, kidney problems or heart disease.
“Swelling of the foot, ankle and leg can be severe enough to leave an indentation, or "pit", when you press on the area. This swelling (edema) is the result of excess fluid in your tissues — often caused by congestive heart failure or blockage in a leg vein.”
- Mayo Clinic
For example, if on top of the swelling, you are also experiencing pains in your chest, fever or shortened breath, then you’re going to have to see a doctor. Each case of a person dealing with swelling can mean something different and it can be more or less serious. If you’re only swollen in one leg, that is also cause for alarm, because you might be suffering from venous thrombosis.
If what you are experiencing is harmless swelling, then you will be happy to know that it can be prevented and reduced naturally.
- Whenever you are sitting, try and put your legs up. Keep them in that position for about half an hour, as often as three times in a day will help drain fluid from your feet back into the body and will reduce swelling, as well as pain.
- Stop, or at least reduce, smoking. You might not know this, but smoking can actually cause or worsen the swelling in your legs and feet. Start cutting back and you will notice the difference.
- Increase your magnesium intake. The swelling and pain in your feet can be the result of a general lack of magnesium in your body. Replenish it either by taking supplements daily, or by introducing foods rich in magnesium into your diet.
- Avoid caffeine and salt, but don’t hold back from drinking water. Salt and caffeine are known to cause swelling or aggravate the pre-existing condition, because they result in water retention. You can counteract them by drinking lots of water, which will dilute these substances, as well as cleanse your body and flush out toxins.
- Try not to sit or stand for prolonged periods of time. Instead, get up and walk around or even exercise, in order to encourage blood circulation. Swimming is especially beneficial, because you are not putting weight or applying pressure to your feet.
Swollen extremities are not the most pleasant thing in the world, but you can definitely take steps to reduce the effect. Just remember to always make sure the swelling is not a sign of a more serious health problem.