Foot swelling, or edema, happens when excess fluid gets trapped in the tissues of your feet and legs. Occasional leg swelling is common and doesn't necessarily indicate a problem, but chronic foot swelling can be a symptom of a serious health problem. A good self-care routine and a checkup from your doctor are key to getting rid of swelling and preventing its return.
When you suffer from foot swelling, find the proper balance between time spent on your feet and time spent sitting down. When you're on your feet too much, you can experience swelling. The same is true for sitting at a desk too long. If you do sit at a desk, try to move your legs frequently and get up often to take small stretching and movement breaks. If you work on your feet, try to take frequent breaks during which you put your feet up for a few minutes at a time.
Exercise keeps the fluid in your lower body moving. As your muscles expand and contract, they essentially squish excess fluid out of your water-logged tissues. The increased blood flow to your whole body helps flush extra fluid away. On the other hand, too much exercise can worsen swelling. Talk to your doctor about the appropriate amount an intensity of exercise for your condition.
When you're overweight, the load your legs and feet carry increases. This extra weight can put additional strain on the blood vessels that have to move fluid through your lower body. Even a small weight loss, such as 5 to 10 pounds, can improve symptoms.
Improve Your Diet
Diet often plays a key role in foot swelling. Monitor and reduce your sodium intake, since high levels of sodium in your food can have a direct impact on swelling, according to Columbia University's Go Ask Alice. In addition, make sure you're adequately hydrated. Drinking water helps flush excess fluid out of your system.
Evaluate Your Medications
Certain medications, such as birth control pills, blood pressure drugs and antidepressants can cause swelling, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. If your swelling becomes persistent or painful, talk to your doctor. You may be able to try a different medication that causes fewer side effects. Never stop taking your medications without first talking to your doctor.
See Your Doctor
Foot and leg swelling is relatively common and often harmless, but it's still important to have your symptoms evaluated by a physician. In some cases, swelling is a symptom of a larger problem, such as kidney failure, heart failure, blood clots, liver disease and infection. If left untreated, these conditions can be fatal.