Information for Severely Swollen Legs & Feet

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Information for Severely Swollen Legs & Feet
Information for Severely Swollen Legs & Feet (Image: Morguefile.com)

Severe swelling in your legs and feet can be the result of an excessive amount of fluid that builds up in your tissues. The medical term is peripheral edema. The condition can be very uncomfortable or painful. It may occur in one or both legs or feet.

Causes

Swollen legs and feet can be caused by prolonged standing or sitting, pregnancy, menstrual periods, injury or trauma, increased age, being overweight, infection, a blood clot, varicose veins, burns, surgery, medications, the bite or sting of an insect or venous insufficiency (a problem with your veins pumping the blood back to your heart).

Diagnosis

Diagnosis may be made by any combination of physical examination, including careful analysis of your heart, lungs, abdomen, legs and feet; blood tests; X-rays; urinalysis; and electrocardiogram.

Treatment

Treatment varies, depending on the underlying cause. Your physician may prescribe diuretics (water pills) to help your body eliminate excess fluid.

Self-Management

You can relieve some swelling of your legs and feet by keeping them elevated when you are lying or sitting, exercising, wearing support stockings and lowering your intake of salt.

Warning

If you are experiencing shortness of breath and/or chest pain, seek immediate medical treatment. Contact your doctor as soon as possible if you have other symptoms such as a decrease of urine, fever, swelling in your abdomen, warmth or redness in your leg or foot, or if you are pregnant and the increased swelling is sudden.

Prevention

To prevent swelling, do not stand or sit for excessive periods of time. Try to stretch your legs periodically when you are flying or driving long distances.

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