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Health

The Common Causes of Lower Extremity Edema, Explained

Have you ever had a day where you were on your feet too long and ended up with some swelling in your legs or ankles?

The human body is between 50 and 60% water. We have the tough job of maintaining the balance of fluid in the body. As such, we have to be aware of our intake and output of fluids.

Sometimes when things are off-balance, fluid builds up in the tissues of the feet, legs, and ankles. This is called edema.

What are the common causes of lower extremity edema? What edema treatments are available? Keep reading to get the answer in this must-read guide.

What is Edema?

Edema is a medical term that refers to a condition where fluid is trapped in the body’s tissues. It most often occurs in the lower extremities, but can also occur in your abdomen, face, and hands.

Signs of Edema

If you notice an area of your body is swollen and looking bigger than it did the previous day, it may be edema. It often occurs in the legs and ankles. Click here to find out what may be causing the accumulation of fluid.

Other symptoms include difficulty walking, tightness in the area, stretched, shiny skin, cough or trouble breathing, and pain or soreness in the affected area.

Causes of Lower Extremity Edema

Once you know it’s edema, causes need to be determined. Why is the fluid building up in your tissues?

Side Effects of Medication

Some prescription drugs for blood pressure, inflammation, and pain management list edema as a side effect.

Gravity

When you sit or stand in one place for too long, gravity pulls water down into your lower extremities.

Underlying Medical Conditions

Edema can be a symptom of conditions like lung, liver, thyroid, and kidney disease and congestive heart failure.

Pregnancy

Some pregnant women get edema as the uterus puts pressure on the blood vessels causing swelling in the legs.

Weak Immune System

Infections, burns, allergic reactions, clots, and trauma can lead to edema.

Venus Insufficiency

If your veins have weak valves, it makes it difficult for the veins to push blood back to your heart. This condition leads to varicose veins and a buildup of fluid.

Diet

Foods high in sodium and a poor diet can lead to fluid build-up in the body.

Treatment

Treatment depends on the cause. If it’s a side effect of medication, your doctor will adjust the dosage. Your doctor may also recommend wearing compression socks.

Other treatments include elevating your legs or arms, exercising, and cutting the amount of salt in your diet. If you sit or stand a lot, move around from time to time. You can also massage the swollen area pushing the fluid toward the heart.

Is it Time to See a Doctor?

Now you know the causes of lower extremity edema. They can range from something simple to something more serious. It’s best to see a doctor to determine what’s causing it. Your primary care physician can help you get the proper treatment. If left untreated, you may end up dealing with other complications.

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