Leg Oedema: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Leg swelling or leg oedema is a medical condition that causes the lower extremities to swell. It is caused by fluid accumulation in the tissues of the lower extremities. It is most common in people who are obese or have chronic kidney disease. It can also be caused by heart failure, kidney disease, and diabetes. In most cases, pregnant women and people of 55+ age are at higher risk of leg swelling or leg oedema.

Next, I will try to tell you about the causes of leg oedema and how you can get rid of this problem.

What is Leg Swelling or Leg Oedema:

Leg swelling or oedema is a medical condition that causes an increase in the amount of fluid in the tissues and cells of the leg. It is most often caused by an underlying condition, such as heart failure, congestive heart failure, chronic kidney disease, cirrhosis of the liver, congestive heart failure, or acute viral infections.

Oedema can be caused by fluid build-up in the body, or varicose veins, due to medications, such as diuretics, corticosteroids, and beta blockers. It can also be caused by a decrease in the production of lymphatic fluid.

Also, oedema can occur if you stand or sit for a long time.  Women often experience edema during their menstrual periods (menstruation) or pregnancy, which is usually harmless, although high blood pressure can be a sign of other problems. Edema is related to circulatory (vascular), heart, or liver problems.
Various diseases can cause edema.  Most of the time, edema is not a serious illness, but it can be a sign of one.

Causes and Remedies For Swollen Feet:

Excess water in the feet, ankles, and legs can cause swelling, medically known as leg oedema. It is important to get treatment for leg oedema as soon as possible to avoid complications and prevent further damage to the body.

Common Causes of Leg Swelling are

When fluid leaks out of the tiny blood vessels and spreads into the tissues, the leg, including the skin, swells. Oedema mostly happens in people on their feet, ankles and legs, it can affect your other parts of the body. The main causes of these medical issues are…

  1. Sitting or standing in the same position for a long time (long air travel, traffic police, or doctor working for a long time next to a patient during an operation)
  2. Eating too much salty food,
  3. Increased body weight,
  4. During the premenstrual period,
  5. Getting pregnant,
  6. Side effects of certain drugs – high blood pressure drugs (calcium channel brokers), birth control pills, steroid-like drugs, painkillers (NSAIDs), hormone therapy (estrogens), some diabetes drugs (a thiazolidinedione)
  7. Due to leg injury (broken, sprained)
  8. Insect bites (bees, bumblebees)
  9. Scorpion bite,
  10. Liver Cirrhosis,
  11. Heart failure,
  12. Kidney failure,
  13. If the blood vessels of the legs are damaged (Chronic Venous Insufficiency)
  14. If the lymph nodes and lymph flow are damaged (as a side effect of cancer surgery)
  15. If there is a long-term protein deficiency in the diet,
  16. Blood clots in the blood vessels of the legs (DVT)
  17. Leg infection (cellulitis, filariasis)
  18. Diabetic foot

Oedema Related to Blood Circulation (vascular), Heart or Liver Problems

National Institutes Of Health says, various reasons are caused for leg oedema, but there is some important reason which is associated with heart or liver problems. The reasons are…

1. Venous Insufficiency

Oedema is more likely to occur in the legs and ankles, as the veins face obstruction in transporting adequate blood all the way to the legs and heart.  As a result, it accumulates in the legs, and fluids are forced from the blood vessels into the surrounding tissues.  Oedema can also be caused by varicose veins.

2. Congestive heart failure

Peripheral edema is known because that can cause both abdominal oedema.  The heart helps pump blood to reach all the vessels, but oedema causes the heart to become too weak to properly pump blood around the body, so blood pools in front of the heart, and due to increased blood pressure in the veins, fluid leaks into surrounding tissues.  This can lead to swelling of the legs or accumulation of fluid in the abdomen.  If the person spends a lot of time lying down, he or she may develop swelling in the back (called sacral edema). 

3. Congestive Lungs Failure

Heart failure can also cause swelling of the lungs called pulmonary edema.  This is a life-threatening condition where the lungs fill up with fluid so that the left side of the heart is not strong enough to pump blood from the lungs.  Symptoms that cause fluid to leak into the lung tissue include shortness of breath and rapid, shallow breathing or coughing. Also, worse lung conditions like emphysema are one of the reasons for causing oedema in the legs.

4. Due to Kidney Disease

Leg oedema occurs when the kidneys are unable to filter waste products properly.  Symptoms of this can be in the legs and around the eyes, because the kidneys do not remove enough sodium from the body, causing pressure in the blood vessels, which can lead to edema.

5. Low Protein Levels in Blood

Leg oedema ER Another cause is a lack of protein albumin in the blood.  Low levels of protein in the blood can allow fluid to drain more easily from blood vessels.  This can be caused by extreme malnutrition, as well as other causes including kidney and liver disease that cause the body to make too little protein.

6. Lymphedema

Lymphedema is a condition of causing any kind of damage to the lymphatic system which can be caused by any medical condition like cancer treatment or surgery. When cancer therapies and treatments are given to a patient the lymph nodes are removed or destroyed. The symptoms that could be seen are usually only one part of the body, like an arm. This is a condition that could be temporary after cancer surgery it can also develop into a chronic condition that can be worse.

Symptoms of Leg Oedema

If you are suffering from oedema, you can understand it through some symptoms
If the feet are swollen, then what changes in the feet…

  • Legs swell more than usual,
  • The skin of the feet becomes shiny and tight,
  • The swollen feet become discolored, sore, tender, and tender when pressed with fingertips.
  • You can face difficulties when you are walking because your legs, ankles or feet swell.
  • You may also feel coughing or facing to breathe naturally.

Which Excludes –

  • Do not stand or sit for a long time,
  • Tight shoes, socks, or clothes cannot be worn.

When to consult a doctor?

If one or both legs are swollen and there is no improvement even after a few days of treatment at home…

  • If worse comes to worst –
  • Injury or other cause not found,
  • If the leg suddenly becomes swollen and severe due to pain,
  • If the swollen area becomes red and feels hot to the touch,
  • If body temperature rises and fever comes with chills,
  • If there is uncontrolled diabetes with leg swelling,
  • If leg swelling is accompanied by tightness in the chest, feeling of suffocation, and shortness of breath,
  • Heavy pressure, heaviness or pain in the chest,
  • If blood comes with a cough,

How is edema treated?

Oedema can be caused by various physical problems.  However, edema has different causes for each person.  Since oedema is caused for different reasons for each person, the treatment is different for everyone. Therefore, the treatment is given by diagnosing the cause.

  • If the doctor discovers that the edema is caused by lung diseases, such as emphysema or chronic bronchitis, he will prescribe medication to treat the lung problem so that your leg swelling will decrease.  During treatment, the doctor must know about your lifestyle. If you smoke, your health care provider will advise you to quit smoking.
  • If your doctor diagnoses edema as a result of chronic heart failure, he may prescribe medication to treat your heart problem, as well as recommend lifestyle changes to treat your weight, fluid intake, and salt intake.  I May suggest cutting back if you drink alcohol.
  • Many times during pregnancy, many girls suffer from swelling of their legs, then the doctor advises them to treat them accordingly and walk around and not hang their legs too much.
  • If the doctor knows from your medical history that the swelling is from the side effects of the drugs you are taking.  If so, your provider may stop or lower the dose of your medication to resolve the swelling.

What is the Remedy to Treat Leg oedema?

What to do –

  • Elevate the swollen leg on a chair or pillow when possible.
  • Light exercises such as walking can be done to increase blood circulation in swollen legs.
  • Comfortable shoes with small heels and soft soles that fit the feet can be worn,
  • Always keep feet clean and dry and use moisturizer as needed to avoid infection.
  • You need to reduce salt intake from your food.
  • Try to maintain a healthy lifestyle and food habits.
  • Always follow the doctor’s advice and the accurate doses of the doctor’s medications.

Complications that May Occur Without Proper Treatment –

  • Constantly painful feet will swell,
  • It will be difficult to walk,
  • Legs will become stronger,
  • Swollen leg skin will become tight and then uncomfortable and itchy.
  • Increased chance of infection in the swollen area,
  • The skin of the swollen area may rupture, allowing blood and fluid to ooze out.
  • Blood circulation in the swollen area may decrease,
  • The elasticity of the arteries, veins, joints, and muscles of the swollen area may decrease.
  • Skin sores may appear.

How Can you Prevent Leg Oedema?

Sometimes, preventing edema can be so difficult because if it is the result of an underlying health condition like heart failure, liver or kidney disease, steps can help you to feel better and relief soon from this worth situation. You can change your lifestyle, walk regularly, limit and reduce your regular salt intake, take treatment and medication to overcome the symptoms of edema, and keep in touch with your healthcare provider to manage symptoms.

Leg swelling or leg oedema conditions can be treated. So you have to take care of the most common causes of leg swelling and need to do concerned about properly diagnosis of some underlying health issues like is heart failure, kidney disease, pulmonary edema, and congestive heart failure.

Read More: Common Endocrine Disorders: 7 Most Common Endocrine Diseases

SOURCE:  (Andreae S. Lexikon der Krankheiten und Untersuchungen. Stuttgart: Thieme; 2008.
Longo DL, Fauci AS, Kasper DL, Hauser SL, Jameson JL, Loscalzo J. Harrison’s Principles of internal medicine. New York: McGraw-Hill Companies. 18th ed; 2011.
Pschyrembel W. Klinisches Wörterbuch. Berlin: De Gruyter; 2014.)

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