Swollen legs may be caused by a variety of conditions. This common disorder may be the mechanical result of remaining on your feet – standing rather than moving about – for too long a time. Or, at the opposite extreme, it may be associated in a complex way with disorders of the heart, blood vessels, kidneys or liver, which result in an abnormal retention of water in the body.
If you are a chronic sufferer from this uncomfortable disorder, there are two significant things you can to reduce leg swelling – be sure that you report the condition to your doctor so that he or she can determine the underlying cause of leg swelling; assure yourself of at least temporary relief by certain simple measures which will help reduce leg swelling.
Women suffer more from swollen legs than men do. This is particularly true during the premenstrual period and during pregnancy when there is a greater tendency toward the retention of all body fluids. The disorder particularly plagues persons who are overweight, and it is more common during hot weather. If your legs swell at the end of the day, after spending hours standing or sitting without moving about from time to time, you may simply be experiencing the results of gravity at work as the blood and other fluids in your body accumulate at the body’s lower levels.
Another common cause of swollen legs is varicose veins. Because the veins are functioning defectively, blood stagnates in the legs. As blood accumulates, pressure in the veins rises and fluid leaks from the veins into the surrounding tissues, causing leg swelling.
Abnormalities in the lymph channels throughout the legs can cause a similar leg swelling. In some cases, leg swelling is related to the use of certain medications – such as cortisone, birth control pills and other hormones.
The first thing to do when you notice persistent swelling of the legs is to check with your doctor. He or she can determine whether the condition is related to a more generalized disease which should be treated.
Dietary restriction, for example, or medication which promotes the excretion of urine – will often counteract the fluid retention and thus reduce leg swelling. If the doctor finds that the swelling is a side effect of medications you are taking, he or she may want to modify your dosage.
Once you have been assured that your swollen legs are not symptoms of a more extensive health problem, you should follow practices which can prevent or reduce swelling.
How to reduce leg swelling:
For example, don’t sit or stand in one position for prolonged periods; move around to keep your blood circulating.
If you have a sedentary job, take a few minutes away from your desk during the day to stand up, stretch and walk around. While seated, elevate your legs from time to time, even if you prop them up only a few inches.
If you are taking a long automobile trip, stop every few hours and walk around. On a plane trip, pace the aisle a few times to keep yourself active.
Some people think that wearing elastic stockings cures swollen legs. This is not true, but they do provide relief and should be tried unless your doctor specifically instructs you not to.