8 Possible Causes Of Leg And Foot Swelling: Blood Clots, Kidney Failure, And More

Date March 13, 2018

Your legs and feet can swell for many different reasons. Although swelling often is simply a result of standing or sitting for too long and improves with rest, it can also be serious, especially if you have other symptoms and an existing health condition.

Below is a list of a few possible causes of swollen feet and legs.

1. Sitting or standing for extended periods of time

If your job involves sitting or standing all day, you may feel that your legs and feet are swollen when the day is over. In this case, swelling can be improved with rest and taking a foot bath. Place a pillow or two under your legs when lying down for a greater relief.

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2. Pregnancy

It's normal for pregnant women to have swollen feet and legs, especially in the third trimester. But if the swelling is sudden and is accompanied by a severe headache, nausea, and passing too little urine, it can be a sign of a dangerous condition called preeclampsia, which warrants calling a doctor as soon as possible.

3. Injury to the foot or leg

Swelling of the foot or leg can result from an injury, such as a sprained ankle. If you notice a swelling in your foot, ankle, or leg after a fall, misstep, or blow, contact your doctor, especially if the pain is present even when there is no pressure on the affected body part.

4. Use of certain medicines

Leg and foot swelling can develop as a side effect of certain medicines. These include tricyclic antidepressants, diabetes medicines, steroids, and calcium channel blockers used to treat high blood pressure. If the swelling developed after you started taking new medicines, report this and any other side effects to your doctor.

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5. Lymphedema

Lymphedema is a term for swelling which occurs as a result of a blockage somewhere in the lymphatic system. People who are undergoing or have undergone cancer treatment are at an increased risk of developing lymphedema.

6. Blood clot

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a condition in which a blood clot forms in a deep vein in your leg, is a medical emergency, because the blood clot can break off and travel to the lungs, where it can cause a life-threatening condition known as pulmonary embolism. In DVT, the affected leg is usually swollen, red, painful, and warm to the touch.

7. Liver, heart, or kidney failure

Failure of one of these organs causes fluid retention, which in turn leads to swelling in the feet and legs. If you have a known heart, liver, or kidney condition and have developed leg and feet swelling, report this symptom to your doctor immediately.

8. Infection

Swelling can be caused by an infection affecting your foot or leg. If the swelling is accompanied by a skin lesion, pain, and/or changes in skin color in the affected area, get medical help as soon as possible to prevent the infection from spreading beyond your foot or leg.

Source: Mayo Clinic, MedicineNet, HealthLine, WebMD

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This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.