At the end of a long day, you may notice your feet are aching and tired. If you work at a job that requires long hours of standing, you may be especially prone to aching legs and feet. Furthermore, at times, you may notice swelling in your feet or ankles. Several medical conditions can cause your feet or ankles to swell up. If you notice swelling, be sure to check with your doctor to rule out or treat serious medical disorders.
13. Blood Clot
If you develop a blood clot in the veins of your legs, the decreased blood flow may result in swelling of the feet or ankles. These blood clots, known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), put you at risk for a pulmonary embolism. A pulmonary embolism (PE) occurs when a blood clot breaks free and travels to your lungs. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of DVT include leg pain, swelling, and redness. Symptoms of PE may include chest pain, shortness of breath, and lightheadedness.
12. Congestive Heart Failure
Congestive heart failure (CHF) occurs when the heart is unable to pump blood to the rest of the body efficiently. According to the American Heart Association, CHF can cause swelling in body tissues as the blood attempting to return to the overworked heart backs up. Warning signs of CHF include shortness of breath, wheezing, swelling in the ankles or other body parts, fatigue, and nausea. Confusion and a rapid heart rate may also indicate CHF.
11. Foot or Ankle Injury
Trauma or injury to the foot or ankle can result in swelling as the area becomes inflamed. As the white blood cells associated with inflammation travel to the injured area, the site can become filled with excess fluid. If you sustain an injury to your foot that results in swelling, a medical evaluation can help determine whether you have suffered a break or a sprain. If you have sprained your ankle, your doctor may recommend treatment consisting of rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
10. High Salt Intake
Eating a diet high in salt can cause water retention that results in swollen feet or ankles. The CDC recommends consuming less than 2,300 mg of sodium each day. Hidden sources of dietary sodium include items such as canned soups, processed tomato sauces, chips, cheese products, and processed meats. To decrease your daily salt intake, avoid adding extra salt to your foods. Instead, season your meals with herbs and spices.
9. Hormone Changes
The fluctuations in hormones associated with premenstrual syndrome, oral contraceptive use, or hormone replacement therapy can cause bloating and swelling. You can take steps to decrease the bloating associated with changes in hormones. Drink plenty of water, avoid excess sodium, and stay away from excessive amounts of sugar and carbohydrates. Make sure to engage in physical exercise to help keep blood circulating properly through your body.
An infection of the skin or tissues of your feet may cause swelling and inflammation as your immune system kicks into gear. Patients with diabetic nephropathy may be more prone to foot sores or ulcers, which can become infected. According to APMA, diabetic patients are susceptible to foot ulcers due to decreased sensation in the extremities, poor circulation, and injury.
7. Kidney Failure
Swollen ankles, puffy eyes, dry skin, itchiness, and fatigue are all symptoms of kidney disease. According to the National Kidney Foundation, the main causes of chronic kidney disease (CKD) are diabetes and high blood pressure. Risk factors for CKD also include a family history of the disease and advanced age. Complications of CKD include high blood pressure, anemia, weakness, and nerve damage.
6. Liver Cirrhosis
Cirrhosis refers to a condition in which healthy liver tissue is replaced with scar tissue. As the liver becomes damaged and unable to function, the body may retain sodium and water. This causes swelling in the foot, leg, or abdomen. According to the Cleveland Clinic, conditions such as alcoholism, cystic fibrosis, autoimmune hepatitis, diabetes, and viral infections may cause cirrhosis.
According to Medline Plus, lymphedema is a condition in which white blood cells build up in the soft tissues of the body. This can occur due to infection, cancer, scar tissue, or inherited diseases. Exercise, compression, massage, and the use of compression sleeves or stockings may help treat this condition.
Some prescription medicines may have the undesirable side effect of swelling in the feet or ankles. Medscape lists several prescription and over-the-counter drugs that may cause swelling of the feet or ankles. They include certain blood pressure medications, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, hormone replacement therapies, and certain ulcer medications.
The pressure of carrying extra weight can cause fluid to pool in your feet or ankles. To maintain a healthy weight, consume a diet consisting of lean proteins, fiber-rich whole grains, and nutrient-packed fruits and vegetables. Avoid the empty calories associated with processed foods, fast food, and sugary snacks or sodas. Drink plenty of water and provide your body with aerobic exercise and strength training.
Pregnancy carries many body changes, and swollen feet and ankles can be one uncomfortable symptom of this condition. The American Pregnancy Association lists warm temperatures, long days of exertion, low potassium levels, and high consumption of caffeine or sodium as risk factors for pregnancy swelling. To relieve the discomfort associated with swollen feet, take care to drink plenty of water. Elevating your feet and wearing compression stockings may help improve circulation. Avoid standing for long periods of time. Watch out for signs of pre-eclampsia, a life-threatening condition involving high blood pressure, protein in the urine, and sudden fluid retention.
1. Standing or Sitting Too Long
Being on your feet for long periods of time can cause swelling in your feet by decreasing the blood flow to your extremities. Additionally, the effects of gravity on your legs can cause fluid to pool in your feet and ankles. Similarly, spending hours in a chair without breaks to stretch and move your muscles can decrease circulation to your feet. Compression stockings may help with the circulatory problems caused by spending long hours on your feet. If you must sit at a desk for long periods, try to stand up and walk around for five minutes every hour.