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How to Deal with Edema in Legs

Swelling brought on by an accumulation of fluid around the body's tissues and organs is known medically as edema. In the body, edema may develop almost wherever. Several of the more popular locations are:

  • Peripheral edema, which affects the hands or lower legs.
  • Abdomen, also known as ascites
  • Chest (referred to as pleural effusion in the area surrounding the lungs and pulmonary edema if in the lungs)
How to Deal with Edema in Legs

In addition to being painful, ascites and peripheral edema may indicate a more severe illness. Pulmonary edema is a sign of heart failure that is covered in greater depth individually. It can be life-threatening and cause difficulty breathing.

Symptoms of Edema

Edema symptoms might vary according to the underlying cause; however, they may include:

  • Puffiness or swelling of the skin, which makes it look elongated and glossy. Because of gravity, this usually hurts the parts of the body that are closest to the ground. Therefore, after moving about, standing up, spending a long time in a chair, or at the end of the day, edema usually gets worse in the lower legs (known as peripheral edema). After spending several hours in bed, it builds up in the lower back (known as sacral edema). A transient indent or dimple in the skin can be created by applying pressure to the swollen region for a brief period of time.
  • A bigger abdomen (with ascites).
  • Difficulty breathing (due to edema in the chest)

Conditions Related to Edema

A variety of issues might result in edema like-

  • Chronic Venous Disease: Chronic venous disease is a common cause of edema in the lower legs. It is a disorder in which damaged vein valves prevent the legs' veins from pumping enough blood back up to the heart. This may cause the skin to thin, fluid to pool in the lower legs, and, in rare circumstances, the formation of ulcers or skin sores.
    A blood clot in the lower leg's deep veins, known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), can also cause edema. Here, the edema is primarily confined to the feet or ankles and often affects just one side (the left or right); other edematous disorders typically result in swelling of both legs.
  • Pregnancy: Women who are expecting retain more fluid. Hands, feet, and face are frequent places for swelling to appear, particularly in the last stages of a typical pregnancy. In most cases, swelling is not indicative of a developing problem, such as preeclampsia (also known as toxemia), and is prevalent in the absence of other symptoms and observations.
    Menstrual cycle-related hormonal changes may be the cause of edema in women that follows a cyclical pattern, often occurring once a month. Although this kind of edema is frequent, it resolves on its own and doesn't need medical attention.
  • Drugs: Multiple drugs, including oral diabetic treatments, blood pressure medications, non-prescription analgesics (like ibuprofen), and estrogens, have been linked to edema as a side effect.
  • Renal Disease: Swelling in the lower legs and around the eyes can be caused by the edema associated with renal illness.
  • Heart Failure: A weakening of the heart that affects its pumping motion is the cause of heart failure, also known as congestive heart failure. Along with other symptoms, swelling in the legs and abdomen might be a sign of heart failure. Breathlessness may also result from fluid buildup in the lungs (pulmonary edema) brought on by heart failure. This ailment can be extremely hazardous and necessitate immediate medical attention.
  • Cirrhosis: The scarring of the liver due to a variety of factors can produce an obstruction in the flow of blood through the liver. Individuals who have cirrhosis may experience prominent leg or abdominal swelling (peripheral edema) or ascites.
  • Travel: Extended durations of sitting, as those seen during plane travel, might result in lower leg edema. This is typical and typically not an indication of an issue.
    Get in touch with your healthcare physician if your leg(s) continue to swell or if you experience leg discomfort hours or days after the flight. A blood clot may be indicated by persistent discomfort and swelling (DVT).
  • Angioedema: Fluid may leak from blood arteries into the surrounding tissues as a result of some drugs' adverse reactions or hereditary illnesses. The cheeks, lips, tongue, mouth, throat, voice box, limbs, or genitalia may expand quickly as a result. Coughing, pressure in the throat, and trouble swallowing are possible symptoms. In addition to being potentially fatal, neck swelling can make breathing difficult.
    This kind of edema can occasionally cause stomach pain and arise in the intestinal wall of the colon.
  • Lymphedema: Swelling of a leg or limbs with thickening of the skin on the side of the operation can result after surgically removing lymph nodes to treat cancer, most often breast cancer.
    A hereditary illness that manifests in infancy or early adulthood can also cause swelling in both legs due to lymphatic issues. Infection, trauma, and obesity are additional causes of lymphedema.

Determining the Origin of Edema

In order to find out if you require an evaluation, you should contact your healthcare practitioner if you have new swelling in the hands, belly, legs, or the area around your eyes.

Seek immediate medical attention if you have abrupt swelling of the lips, tongue, or mouth, especially if it interferes with your breathing or speech.

Edema Treatment

Treatment for edema consists of addressing the underlying cause (if feasible), cutting back on salt (sodium) in your diet, and frequently using a diuretic to help you get rid of extra fluid. It might also be advised to elevate the legs and wear compression stockings.

Treatment is not necessary for every kind of edema. Treatment for edema associated with menstruation or pregnancy is typically not provided. In order to reduce the negative effects of sudden fluid loss (such as low blood pressure), peripheral edema and ascites are often treated slowly. Some steps that you can take care-

  • Limit your Intake of Salt (sodium): It can exacerbate edema. Sodium is included in processed foods and table salt. If you use a diuretic along with your medication, cutting back on salt consumption may help lessen edema. There are several resources with guidelines for reducing salt.
  • Diuretic: Medication known as a diuretic encourages the kidneys to expel more salt and water, which helps lower edema. Diuretics should be taken carefully since rapid fluid removal might drop blood pressure, compromise renal function, and induce dizziness or fainting.
  • Compression Socks: Compression socks are a treatment and prevention for leg edema. Knee-high, thigh-high, and pantyhose are among the various heights of stockings that are offered. For the majority of patients, knee-high stockings will do. While appropriate stocking fitting and measurement can lessen the likelihood of discomfort, some stockings may irritate or hurt the skin.
    Suction is applied most effectively at the ankle and progressively reduced up the leg using effective compression stockings. Different compression levels for these stockings are available.
    It is not necessary to get a prescription to acquire stockings with mild compression from pharmacies and surgical supply stores. Prescription stockings are typically needed by those with moderate to severe edema, those who spend a lot of time on their feet, and those who have ulcers. A medical professional may measure patients for stockings or write a prescription for them, then have a surgical supply or specialized store measure the patient.
    White "anti-embolism" stockings, which are frequently provided in hospitals, do not adequately cure edema because they do not provide enough pressure at the ankle.
  • Body Placement: Leg, ankle, and foot edema can be alleviated by raising the legs three or four times a day for thirty minutes above the heart. For patients with modest venous illness, elevating the legs may be enough to diminish or completely remove edema; however, more severe instances need further interventions. Furthermore, elevating one's legs many times a day might not be feasible for individuals who work.


Seeking medical advice from an expert is essential for accurately diagnosing and treating leg edema. Compression therapy using special stockings or wraps, leg elevation, frequent exercise to increase circulation, and dietary changes to cut back on salt consumption are common tactics. In other circumstances, prescriptions for drugs such as diuretics may be given. Edema can be prevented by adopting new lifestyle habits, including eating a healthy weight and minimizing extended sitting or standing. It is possible to successfully treat and minimize leg edema for better general health and mobility by combining medical intervention with lifestyle changes.


Q. Who Does Edema Affect?

A. Although anybody can get edema, pregnant women and individuals 65 years of age and older are most commonly affected.

Q. How frequent is Edema?

A. Since there are several causes of edema, the disorder is frequent. The precise frequency of edema is unclear because mild instances resolve on their own.

Q. What physical effects does edema have on people?

A. Your body will enlarge in some areas due to edema, which may make it difficult for you to accomplish daily duties. Simple lifestyle adjustments, such as moving around if you've been sitting or standing for an extended amount of time or elevating the swollen area of your body, can help you feel better and reduce swelling. If you encounter any of the symptoms of edema, it is advisable to consult your healthcare professional, as edema may indicate an underlying medical issue.

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