Everyone has experienced swelling in the lower extremities at some point or another. It might have occurred in your calves, ankles, or feet; it might have occurred on one side or both sides; and it might have occurred rapidly or gradually. If you are older, have a weaker immune system, or recently suffered an injury, the swelling might be expected, but if it comes on suddenly and is accompanied by other symptoms, it might be the sign of a more serious issue with the fluid-regulating organs. The truth is that swelling, also known as edema, is a single sign that has a wide variety of causes. Here, we will explore some of them:
- Foot or ankle injury: Almost immediately after injury, our body initiates the inflammation response to limit the damage and begin the repair process.
- Allergic reactions: As is the case with an injury, inflammation and swelling are our body’s attempts to get rid of the allergen. Swelling usually goes away soon after exposure, but seek emergency care in severe cases.
- Infection: Similarly, swelling may be our body’s response to a bacterial or a viral infection, and it may be accompanied by redness or pain.
- Prolonged sitting: When you are seated on an airplane or at your desk for a long period of time, fluid accumulates in your feet due to gravity and lack of movement.
- Pregnancy: The body undergoes so many hormonal and weight changes during pregnancy that swelling is sometimes expected. However, it should be monitored closely by your doctor.
- Heart, liver, or kidney disease: These organs are the main regulators of our body’s fluid levels. If there is a problem in one or more of these organs, you might experience swelling in your lower extremities.
- Medications: Certain medications used to treat blood pressure and other conditions may act on the above organs and cause swelling.
The best way to deal with swelling in its early stages is R.I.C.E.—rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Wearing proper footwear, staying active, and reducing the amount of sodium in your diet will also combat swelling. The doctors at the Foot and Ankle Centers of North Houston are prepared to address all of your concerns about swelling in the feet and ankles, in addition to other ailments like plantar warts and neuromas. If you would like to request an appointment at any one of our offices, contact us or call us at (281) 444-4114!