10 Shocking Causes of Swollen Feet and Ankles
Swollen feet may be painful, uncomfortable, and can make it hard to walk. Swollen feet happen for a variety of reasons. Several medical conditions may cause the symptom. Luckily, once you know the underlying cause of swollen feet, you can take steps to feel better. Read on to learn more about the most common causes of swollen feet and ankles.
Swollen Feet During Pregnancy
Many women experience swollen legs and feet during pregnancy. Standing for long periods of time and being physically active may contribute to swelling. Consuming too much salt and too little potassium may play a role as well. Some pregnant women notice that heat aggravates swelling. Usually, some swelling during pregnancy is expected and is not a cause for concern. However, sudden swelling or severe swelling in the feet during pregnancy indicates a potentially dangerous condition called preeclampsia. Alert your doctor immediately if severe or sudden swelling develop during pregnancy.
What Is Preeclampsia?
Some women who have swollen feet during pregnancy may have preeclampsia, a potentially dangerous condition that causes high blood pressure. Untreated preeclampsia can damage the kidneys and liver, and it can even be deadly. Other preeclampsia symptoms include nausea, headache, difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, blurred vision, abdominal pain, and water retention. Preeclampsia develops after 20 weeks of pregnancy. If you experience these symptoms, report them to your doctor immediately.
Sprains, Strains, and Broken Bones
Swelling in the legs and a swollen foot may be a sign of an injury to the foot or lower leg. Broken toes, ankle sprains, ankle strains, and broken bones are just a few injuries that may result in swelling. Swelling is a normal response to injury. Inflammation facilitates healing. If you are injured so badly that it causes a lot of pain, you cannot put weight on your foot, or the area looks very abnormal, seek immediate medical attention.
What Is Lymphedema?
Lymphedema is a condition that results in fluid build-up when the lymph system of the body is blocked or damaged. Cancer and cancer treatment are two potential causes of lymphedema. When lymph fluid is trapped, your legs, feet, and arms may swell. Lymphedema treatment involves performing certain exercises to help move lymph throughout the body. Lymphatic massage is another treatment for lymphedema. A pneumatic compression device is a machine that pumps air into a sleeve placed over an arm or a leg. The pressure exerted on the limb facilitates the movement of lymph and helps relieve swelling.
Heart Failure and Swelling
Heart failure is a condition in which the heart does not pump blood efficiently. This results in impaired blood flow, and blood may pool in the legs and feet. Heart failure makes it uncomfortable to lie down flat. It also causes the heart to beat more rapidly or even in an abnormal rhythm. People with heart failure may feel like they cannot catch their breath. Heart failure is a serious condition. See your doctor right away if you develop concerning heart failure symptoms.
Swelling and Kidney Disease
Your kidneys are bean-shaped organs that filter your blood and help regulate blood pressure. Diabetes and high blood pressure may affect kidney function, resulting in electrolyte imbalances in your blood that can lead to fluid retention. Gravity draws excess water in your body downward, so your lower legs and feet may become swollen. With kidney disease, swelling in the feet and hands is common.
What Is Edema?
Edema is a condition in which the body retains too much water. This can make parts of the body, including the arms, legs, hands, face, and feet, swell. What is the cause of edema? Edema, or swelling, occurs due to a variety of medical conditions. Standing for long periods of time may provoke edema. Taking a long plane trip can trigger fluid retention. Some women notice edema during their monthly period. Edema may be caused by more serious underlying conditions including liver disease, kidney disease, heart failure, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), low protein levels in the blood, and other conditions.
What Is Chronic Venous Insufficiency?
Blood travels back to the heart with the help of one-way valves in veins that assist the forward movement of blood. These valves may become damaged with aging or when people sit or stand for long periods of time. Damaged valves may cause chronic venous insufficiency, a condition in which blood pools in the lower legs, causing swelling in the legs and feet. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is another common cause of chronic venous insufficiency. Tumors and vascular malformations are other less common causes of chronic venous insufficiency. Chronic venous insufficiency symptoms include skin discoloration, swollen blood vessels, and swelling in the extremities.