We’ve all had the experience of spending too much time on our feet, and by the end of the day, noticing the stiff ache of some swelling in the feet, ankles, and legs. This build-up is called edema and is caused by fluid becoming trapped in the body’s tissues. For some, it might just be a result of too much standing or too much salt in their meals for the day, but for others, it can be an indication of some pretty serious health concerns. What can swollen feet say about your health, and what are your treatment options?
What is Edema and What Causes it?
Edema is characterized by swelling in the tissues in the body, and it is most visible in areas like the hands, face, legs and feet. This retention of fluid can have a number of causes:
- Sometimes an allergic reaction, injury, or burn might cause areas of the body to swell up, retaining fluid in areas of inflammation.
- Swollen feet are common in pregnant women, for which the enlarged uterus puts pressure on the blood vessels of the lower body.
- Certain medications or drugs might have the side effect of causing or worsening retention of fluids and edema.
- Gravity can also cause swelling in the legs and swollen feet; the same forces that draw our bodies down to the earth naturally draw water down to fill spaces in the legs and feet.
- Dietary conditions like excess salt or processed foods can contribute to water retention that creates a “puffy” look, indicating edema.
- When there is a weakening of the valves and veins in the legs (called venous insufficiency), it can be hard for the body to push blood against gravity to the heart, and blood and fluid pool in the feet and legs.
- Edema can also indicate serious disease and conditions like preeclampsia in pregnant women, congestive heart failure, and lung, kidney, or thyroid diseases.
When you’re experiencing symptoms of edema, it’s important to seek immediate medical care if you have trouble breathing, shortness of breath, or chest pain, or if swollen feet or legs are making it challenging to walk or function. The fluid itself isn’t dangerous, but the swelling can be uncomfortable and cause additional problems if you wait to seek care. A qualified medical team will be able to help you determine the source of edema and provide you with a comprehensive plan for eliminating the problem.
Don’t Wait to Get an Accurate Diagnosis
When do you experience swollen feet and legs? What do you do to alleviate the strain? When problems with edema become more than an occasional occurrence, it’s time to get a professional evaluation and solution. Whether your issues are caused by dietary and lifestyle choices that require simple adjustments, or signs of a more serious condition like venous insufficiency or a medical condition, your first step is an evaluation by medical professionals with your health and wellness as priorities. Contact HealthStar Clinic today to schedule an appointment!