Your legs and feet can swell for many different reasons. Although swelling often is simply a result of standing or sitting for too long and improves with rest, it can also be serious, especially if you have other symptoms and an existing health condition.
Below is a list of a few possible causes of swollen feet and legs.
1. Sitting or standing for extended periods of time
If your job involves sitting or standing all day, you may feel that your legs and feet are swollen when the day is over. In this case, swelling can be improved with rest and taking a foot bath. Place a pillow or two under your legs when lying down for a greater relief.
It’s normal for pregnant women to have swollen feet and legs, especially in the third trimester. But if the swelling is sudden and is accompanied by a severe headache, nausea, and passing too little urine, it can be a sign of a dangerous condition called preeclampsia, which warrants calling a doctor as soon as possible.
3. Injury to the foot or leg
Swelling of the foot or leg can result from an injury, such as a sprained ankle. If you notice a swelling in your foot, ankle, or leg after a fall, misstep, or blow, contact your doctor, especially if the pain is present even when there is no pressure on the affected body part.
4. Use of certain medicines
Leg and foot swelling can develop as a side effect of certain medicines. These include tricyclic antidepressants, diabetes medicines, steroids, and calcium channel blockers used to treat high blood pressure. If the swelling developed after you started taking new medicines, report this and any other side effects to your doctor.
Lymphedema is a term for swelling which occurs as a result of a blockage somewhere in the lymphatic system. People who are undergoing or have undergone cancer treatment are at an increased risk of developing lymphedema.
6. Blood clot
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a condition in which a blood clot forms in a deep vein in your leg, is a medical emergency, because the blood clot can break off and travel to the lungs, where it can cause a life-threatening condition known as pulmonary embolism. In DVT, the affected leg is usually swollen, red, painful, and warm to the touch.
7. Liver, heart, or kidney failure
Failure of one of these organs causes fluid retention, which in turn leads to swelling in the feet and legs. If you have a known heart, liver, or kidney condition and have developed leg and feet swelling, report this symptom to your doctor immediately.
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