Edema is the swelling that appears on your legs, feet and ankles after a flight or a long day of standing on your feet. Edema is generally completely natural, but sometimes, it may indicate a serious medical issue.
Yet, in all cases, its occurrence can be embarrassing and may cause discomfort, especially when it can be seen by others.
Edema is a common occurrence in the extremities, particularly the feet and legs, and is a swelling which has resulted from an excess fluid trapped in the tissues.
Its most common signs are the following:
- puffiness or swellings of the tissue directly under the skin
- Increased size of the abdomen
- Shiny or stretched skin
- Skin that keeps a dimple when pressed for a few seconds
The most common reasons for edema include:
medication, hormones, lymphedema (obstructed lymph channel), heart disease and blood clots, injury, obesity, kidney disease, infection, pregnancy, arthritis, liver issues, venous insufficiency.
These are some of the most effective ways to treat edema:
This is one of the most effective and quickest methods to relieve swelling is the RICE method:
Rest your legs: You should lie down on the back, as sitting may lead to some blood vessel constriction around the knees and waist. You should take off your shoes.
Ice: In order to constrict the blood vessels and stimulate the blood flow to the heart, you should use cold compresses. Yet, you should apply it for around 10-20 minutes at once.
Compression: In order to alleviate swelling and squeeze blood up the leg, you should wrap the affected areas, ankles or feet, in a bandage or you should slip on a compression sock.
Elevate: While in the lying position, raise your legs using a pillow or chair in order to trigger the blood to flow back towards your body.
As soon as you notice that your lower extremities are starting to swell, you should gently massage the area in order to eliminate the fluid deposits in the cells and tissue and stimulate blood flow.
Prevention of Edema:
- Do not consume foods rich in sugar
Excess amounts of insulin lead to accumulation of sodium and fluid, particularly in the case of type 2 diabetics. With time, this causes congestive heart failure and high blood pressure.
- More Magnesium
Magnesium is extremely beneficial in this case, as it alleviates muscle cramps that are common edema symptoms, and reduces the fluid retention in menstruating women.
- Lots of water
It times, edema can result from dehydration. When the body lacks water, it pushes lots of water back in the cells, and they consequently swell. In more complicated cases, this can lead to permanent brain damage. In order to prevent dehydration, you should regularly consume 7-10 larger glasses of water.
Exercises stimulate contraction of the muscles, which constrict and dilate blood vessels and force the blood back to the heart. Moreover, it also moves along lymph, which impedes it from pooling in the extremities. Also, if you spend longer periods of time sitting down or standing, you should spend some time flexing or extending the knees or ankles, and avoid crossing the legs while sitting.
- Reduce Salt
The human body attempts to keep the sodium/water concentration outside the cell walls. On the other hand, when you consume excess amounts of sodium, it retains the water in order to maintain the proper ratio. This is fluid retention and it leads to swellings.
The consumption of diuretic vegetables reduces the fluid accumulation in the body tissue. These beneficial foods are green beans, leafy greens, garlic, parsley, beets, asparagus, leeks, grapes, onion, pineapple, pumpkin. Garlic is especially beneficial as it has allicin, a vasodilator, which dilates blood vessels and promotes blood flow.
Yet, remember that if you experience symptoms like headaches, shortness of breath or chest pain due to edema, you need to consult your doctor.