Every day the 26 bones and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments in each foot and ankle work as a team transporting us wherever we go. Therefore, having the Swollen feet is a very common problem for most people.
The abnormal accumulation of fluids in the feet causes swelling. This fluid retention in the body is known as edema.
Nevertheless, you can suffer from swollen feet for various reasons. That is, the cause can be from a minor injury or sedentary lifestyle, to an underlying pathology that needs immediate medical attention.
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Whatever the case, the following guide will help you. Let’s figure out why your feet look swollen and what to do to prevent this discomfort.
Swollen feet: reasons
What are the most common reasons feet may swell? And most importantly, when should you see a doctor? Here are the answers.
Painless foot swelling is a common problem, particularly among older people. If it persists, it is necessary to consult a specialist doctor.
If the swelling of the feet becomes very bothersome and painful, it may be a skin infection. Cellulitis due to bacterial infection in the feet and legs can be the cause of this swelling associated with red, hot and sore skin.
People with peripheral vascular disease or diabetes are more prone to infections that escalate rapidly to the extremities. In these cases, the infections are often difficult to detect until they are advanced.
Another is the case of cuts in the skin that bacteria, ingrown nails or certain diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis can enter. They also increase the risk of foot infection.
In case of infections a doctor should be consulted immediately. Generally, treatment is with antibiotics.
Sodium chloride is the biggest culprit when it comes to fluid retention in the body. Therefore, it causes swelling of the feet. When it comes to eating salt, it is recommended that adults consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day, which is approximately one teaspoon.
At this point it should be noted that the sodium we eat does not only come from the salt shaker, but also from the food itself. For example:
The solution is to avoid these types of foods and replace them with others without sodium such as fruitsvegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
Many women start to suffer from swollen feet in the second trimester. and worsens as the pregnancy. Especially towards the end of the day and when the outside temperature is high. This happens because as the baby grows, it presses on the pelvic veins and compromises circulation.
Also, due to hormonal changes. During pregnancy, the body produces the hormone relaxin. This causes the joints and ligaments in the pelvis and feet to relax and enlarge.
Now, to alleviate the swollen feet during pregnancyyou can:
Avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time.
Wear comfortable and supportive shoes.
Periodically raise your feet above your heart to help circulation.
Wear compression stockings.
To do physical exercise.
Put cold compresses on your feet.
Avoid salt and increase water intake.
Swollen feet during pregnancy is nothing to worry about. But, if it appears suddenly, along with swelling in the hands and face, a doctor should be called.
This condition occurs when something goes wrong with the lymphatic system: responsible for disposing of unwanted substances such as bacteria and toxins from the body. Then, lymphatic fluid accumulates in the tissues causing lymphedema.
Foot swelling occurs when pelvic lymph nodes are injured or removed. In these cases, a doctor should be consulted. Meanwhile, physical exercise and directed massages are recommended to help drain excess fluids.
When the blood cannot flow around the body properly, this insufficiency appears. The cause is that the valves become damaged and cause blood to leak into the vessels. Fluid is then retained in the calves, particularly around the feet and ankles.
Some signs of venous insufficiency are:
Appearance of varicose veins.
Ulcers on the skin.
Before any of these signs of venous insufficiency, an appointment with the doctor should be made. as soon as possible. Medical treatment usually includes physical activity, the use of compression stockings, and medications to prevent blood clots.
You are standing or sitting for a long time
Standing for a long time without significant movement does not allow the muscles of the legs, ankles and feet to contract. This causes blood flow to and from the feet to decrease, causing them to swell.
The same thing happens to those who sit for long periods. And if you’re sitting cross-legged, your blood vessels get pinched, aggravating the swelling.
Although it’s annoying, the good thing is that this type of swelling goes away. It usually occurs at the end of the day or once you are walking or sitting adequately. But, if the swelling persists or it is not possible to take breaks, it is good to wear compression stockings.
After ovulation, PMS can be the culprit behind swollen feet in women. It can also be caused by hormonal changes caused by hormonal contraception or hormone replacement therapy.
To relieve this inflammation of the feet, you can increase water consumption, reduce your intake of salty foods and exercise to help circulation.
The kidneys are responsible for balancing fluids in the body and moving unnecessary fluids out of the system. When this doesn’t work properly, your feet may swell.
When suffering from kidney failure, the body has problems getting rid of this fluid, so the swelling is more marked and can also appear on the hands and face.
Even on dialysis, the body cannot remove enough fluid. That’s why, In these cases, medication prescribed by specialist doctors is used.
Blood clots form when blood doesn’t flow around the body properly. This causes the platelets to stick together. But how does the swelling of the feet influence this?
If clots develop in the leg veins it is considered a thrombosis. In this case, prevents blood from returning to the heart causing the ankles and feet to swell.
Sometimes foot swelling is accompanied by leg pain, especially in the calf area. If these symptoms appear without explanation, it is necessary to consult a specialist doctor immediately.
As for how to prevent them, it is necessary to exercise, reduce salt intake and stay within a healthy body weight range. Also, take breaks to move around if sitting for long periods of time, wear compression stockings or loose clothing around the ankles.
The liver can develop scarring caused by hepatitis or from drinking too much alcohol for too many years, for example. The scarring interferes with blood flow to and in the liver causing high blood pressure in the veins leading to the liver.
This portal hypertension is what swells the legs, feet and abdomen (ascites). In addition, liver disease can inhibit the production of albumin: a protein that helps stop blood from leaking out of blood vessels.
A lack of this protein means blood can leak causing fluid to pool in the legs and feet.. Hence the swelling. In these cases it is better to visit the doctor to help eliminate excess water slowly.
The heart does not pump enough blood
Foot swelling is also a common sign of congestive heart failure.. This means that the heart cannot pump enough blood. Therefore, it accumulates in the veins, retaining fluid.
An interesting fact is that the location of the swelling can help identify heart failure. Swollen feet usually indicate right-sided heart failure. If this swelling increases and you have difficulty breathing, you need to see a doctor immediately.
Injured ankle or foot
Spraining an ankle or sustaining a stress fracture in the leg or toe are acute injuries that cause foot swelling. Why? Because the blood goes down to the heel carrying cells and fluid that help heal the area but also cause swelling.
To treat an injured foot or ankle, elevate the foot and avoid any weight on the affected leg. Also, using an ice pack or compression bandage can help reduce swelling.
If the inflammation and pain do not go away, it is necessary to visit the doctor to rule out more serious damage. Surgeries in the area also cause swelling. In this case, it must pay attention to what the doctor indicates to reduce inflammation.
Swollen feet can be the side effect of being overweight or obesity. Abdominal fat compresses circulation in the legs, which facilitates swelling of the feet.
In this case, a doctor should be consulted to rule out other possible causes and receive the appropriate treatment. Added to changes in eating habits and physical exercise to lose body weight.
Medications that can cause foot swelling
Not only the medication for hormonal contraception and hormone replacement therapy that we mentioned before cause foot swelling. There are many other drugs that have this effect for different reasons.
Before taking medications for swollen feet, you should always consult a doctor.
Other examples may be the following:
Pills to control blood sugar to treat diabetes. The rosiglitazone and pioglitazone they contain make it harder for sodium to get out of the body, causing swelling.
Heart medications: minoxidil and hydralazine. These drugs act as direct vasodilators. That is, they help open up blood vessels so blood can flow more freely.
Calcium channel blockers. These widen the blood vessels by relaxing the muscles in the vessel walls, causing the feet to swell.
Angiotensin receptor blockers prevent sodium from being removed from the body. Consequently, it produces swelling.
Chemotherapy drugs (docetaxel).
Drugs to treat Parkinson’s disease (pramipexole or ropinirole).
All of these medications are available only by prescription.
However, there are some over-the-counter products that also cause swelling, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen). These aggravate swelling in people with heart or liver failure because they cause the body to retain sodium.
However, if foot swelling does not go away or the problem recurs, it is essential to make an appointment with a doctor to determine the underlying cause. If swollen feet are coupled with shortness of breath, chest pain, call emergency services immediately.
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