Swollen Feet

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After a long day on your feet at a trade show or waiting on customers, you have no doubt come home to find yourself with swollen feet (and to much relief once you'd gotten those tight shows off). That is perfectly natural. But should your feet or ankles remain swollen, you might have a much more serious problem.

There are numerous medical reasons that your feet might swell even if you are not a doorman at the Carlyle:

·         Lymphedema is a collection of lymphatic fluid in the tissues that can develop because of the absence of or problems with the lymph vessels or after the removal of lymph nodes. Lymphedema is common following radiation therapy or removal of the lymph nodes in patients with cancer. See your doctor if you have undergone cancer treatment and experience swelling.

·         A blood clot might form in the veins of the legs that can stop the return flow of blood from the legs back up to the heart and cause swelling in the ankles and feet. Deep clots – also known as deep vein thrombosis – can block one or more of the major veins of the legs. These blood clots can be life-threatening if they break loose and travel to the heart and lungs. Call your doctor if you are experiencing swelling in just one leg, and this is accompanied by pain, low-grade fever, and possibly a change in color of the affected leg.

·         Swelling of the ankles and feet is often an early symptom of venous insufficiency. This condition occurs when blood inadequately moves up the veins from the legs and feet up to the heart. Chronic venous insufficiency can lead to skin changes, skin ulcers, and infection. If you experience signs of venous insufficiency you should see your doctor.

·         Swollen feet can also be an indicator of infection. If you have diabetes, it is important to inspect feet daily for blisters and sores, because nerve damage can blunt the pain sensation and foot problems can progress quickly. And people suffering from diabetic neuropathy or other nerve problems of the feet are at greater risk for foot infections. If you notice a swollen foot or blister that appears to be infected, contact your doctor.

·         Pregnant women know that some swelling in the feet and ankles comes with the territory, but they may be unaware that excessive swelling is a sign of preeclampsia. This is a condition in which high blood pressure and protein in the urine develop after the 20th week of pregnancy. If you experience severe swelling or swelling accompanied by other symptoms such as abdominal pain, headaches, infrequent urination, nausea and vomiting, or vision changes, call your doctor.

·         Occasionally swelling in the feet or ankles may indicate a problem such as heart, liver, or kidney disease. Ankles that swell in the evening could be a sign of retaining salt and water because of right-sided heart failure. Kidney disease can also cause foot and ankle swelling. Liver disease can affect the liver's production of a protein called albumin, which keeps the blood from leaking out of the blood vessels into the surrounding tissues. Call your doctor if you feel short of breath or have chest pain, pressure, or tightness.

Sources: U.S. National Library of Medicine