What is Edema?
Edema is a condition in which swelling occurs due overflow of the bodies vascular system causing excess fluid to leak into the surrounding tissues. The fluid build-up in the tissues causes swelling and pain. Edema may affect any part of the body. We most commonly see swelling in the foot and ankle as the result of faulty venous system, but you may also experience edema after surgery or following a traumatic injury.
Causes of Edema
Mild edema may be caused by the following:
- Sitting or standing in one position for long periods of time
- Eating too salty food
- Premenstrual symptoms
- A side effect of some types of medications including:
- High blood pressure medications
- Steroid drugs
- Diabetes medications
Moderate to severe edema may be caused by the following:
- Congestive heart failure
- Cirrhosis of the liver
- Kidney disease
- Kidney damage
- Weakness or damage to the veins in your legs
- Inadequate lymphatic system
- Severe, long-term protein deficiency
*If you believe your medication is causing pain and swelling in your legs or feet, please speak with your doctor before you discontinue use.
Symptoms of Edema
The most common symptoms of edema are:
- Swelling in your legs or feet
- Shiny skin
- Skin that retains a dimple (pits) after being pressed for several seconds
- Blisters or fluid leakage from the legs/feet
- Open wounds on legs/feet
Your doctor needs to understand the cause of your edema to treat it properly. After an extensive history of the illness is taken, a physical examination may be adequate to determine the cause. Sometimes other studies are required for analysis. Initial studies are non-invasive and may include mapping of the venous system. X-rays, ultrasounds, MRIs, blood tests, or urine analysis may also be used to gather information and obtain an accurate diagnosis.
Treatments for edema depends entirely on the cause and current symptoms.
A few forms of mild edema will resolve on their own. If the edema persists or becomes painful, please seek medical attention.
Moving or walking engages your muscles sending excess fluid back to your heart. Your doctor will provide specific exercises to best help reduce swelling in each area.
Avoid hanging your legs and feet down when possible. Keep the swollen body part above the level of your heart.
Massaging the affected area toward your heart using firm, non-painful pressure can be helpful. It may move the excess fluid away from that area.
Your doctor will likely recommend the use of compression socks, stockings, or sleeves. These items are best used first thing in the morning or when you first get out of bed once the swelling is down. In more severe cases, medical wraps may be required to help reduce the swelling. Due to health risk of fluid overload in patients with heart failure, please make an appointment to discuss the level of compression that is right for you.
Reduce Salt Intake
Your doctor may suggest that you limit your sodium intake. Salt can increase fluid retention worsening your symptoms.
Cases of moderate to severe edema may be treated with medications (diuretics) to help your body release excess fluid. Your doctor will determine if this medication is right for you based on your medical history.
Long term management of edema requires treatment of the underlying condition. An extensive history of the illness will help identify potential causes.
If you have pain associated with swelling or notice open sores on your legs or feet, please make an appointment today.
When to see a Doctor for Edema
While edema isn’t usually a cause for concern, it can be a sign of something serious. You can follow these guidelines to help you determine if you should contact your doctor about the condition.
You should make an appointment with your doctor if you are experiencing edema and:
- You have heart or kidney disease
- You have liver disease
- The swollen areas are red and are warm to the touch
- Your body temperature is higher than usual
- You are pregnant and the swelling is sudden or severe
- You’ve tried the home remedies above, but they haven’t been effective
- The swelling is getting worse
If you meet any of the above criteria, reach out to Keir Foot & Ankle. Patients with edema in Evergreen Park, Palos Park, Morgan Park, and more trust us for expert care. We will get to know you and your medical history so that we can provide you with the proper treatment.
When to see a Doctor for Edema
Edema can be a sign of something serious. Follow these guidelines to help determine if you should contact your doctor about the condition.
You should make an appointment with your doctor if you experience edema and:
- Heart or kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Redness and warm to the touch
- Experience a fever
- Sudden or severe swelling during pregnancy
- Swelling worsens over time
- Open sores on your legs or feet
- Recent sprains or injury
- Difficulty breathing
Edema Care at Keir Foot & Ankle Specialists
If you meet any of the above criteria or have questions regarding swelling in your legs and feet, please call Keir Foot & Ankle Specialists today. Patients with edema in Evergreen Park, Blue Island, Morgan Park, and more trust us for expert care. We will provide proper treatment. Second opinions welcome!