Why legs swell, and what to do in this case?

Swelling of the legs is a symptom that is manifested by visible swelling of the lower limbs, an increase in their circumference, and, as a rule, other symptoms and unpleasant sensations.

There are many reasons for the swelling of the legs. These can be common diseases (for example, heart edema of the legs), as well as directly pathologies of the lower extremities.

Edema of the legs can be unilateral and bilateral, have varying degrees of severity (swelling of the fingers and toes of the legs, or even up to the thigh). Based on these signs, as well as additional symptoms, the doctor can make a definite diagnosis for the patient. Below we consider why the legs swell, and what to do in this case.

What are swelling?

Causes of leg edema may be of a completely different nature. So, the nature of the occurrence of the following types of edema:

  • neuropathic - they are associated with diabetes and alcoholism;
  • cachectic - associated with depletion of the body or with cardiovascular diseases;
  • mechanical - the result of injury, tumors or pregnancy;
  • hydremic - triggered by kidney diseases and caused by the accumulation of excess fluid;
  • stagnant - provoked by an increase in vascular permeability and capillary pressure;
  • allergic (angioedema) - the body's response to an allergen.

Any of the above reasons can provoke swelling in the foot of the right leg or swelling in other parts of the body. In general, the most frequent swelling occurs in the limbs, pleural and abdominal cavities.

Causes of swelling in the legs

To select the method of treatment of edema on the right or left foot, you need to know the reason for their appearance. In men and women, this phenomenon occurs when:

  • diseases of the kidneys, thyroid gland and heart, accompanied by acute heart failure;
  • inflammation or venous thrombosis;
  • lymphatic stasis in the limbs;
  • diabetes;
  • preeclampsia;
  • varicose veins;
  • cirrhosis of the liver.

Also, the swelling of the legs can be caused by fairly harmless reasons:

  • excessive salt intake leading to fluid buildup
  • prolonged standing;
  • drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially before bedtime;
  • long stay on low upholstered furniture;
  • tight, uncomfortable shoes with too high or too low heels.

The causes of edema of the legs can be various factors that prevent the removal of fluid from the body. In most cases, it is difficult to determine at once why the fluid is retained and stagnates in the lower extremities.

Usually, for this purpose you have to pass tests, go for an ultrasound scan, or resort to other ways of finding out the cause of this condition. However, it is obvious that the body responded to some not very favorable effect in this way.

Varicose veins

The most common cause of edema. The overstretching of the connective tissue of the veins and the stagnation of blood in them make the legs not only an unattractive sight, but also causes a lot of trouble, fatigue and pain.

Along with the above risk factors for the formation of varicose veins can be noted and heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and atherosclerosis. Undoubtedly, without understanding the cause of varicose veins, it will be impossible to get rid of edema, and therapy and prevention of diseases should be carried out in a complex.

Cold foot baths, wearing special stockings and regular use of ointments for leg edema and varicose veins will be a good help to relieve symptoms.


During thrombophlebitis, severe swelling of the legs may occur, which are accompanied by pain and other unpleasant sensations (numbness, tingling, “crawling goosebumps”). There is an increase in body temperature, general malaise. In the absence of adequate treatment, thrombophlebitis may manifest more severe symptoms than swelling of the legs.

Kidney impairment

The cause of swelling of the legs may be kidney disease. Both limbs suffer, eyelids swell, circles under the eyes are formed. The color of urine changes, its discharge decreases. Edema may appear on the arms, abdomen. Sometimes renal failure is manifested by a complication after a respiratory illness.

If the “heart” edema appears in the evening, the “kidney”, on the contrary, is more pronounced in the morning, by the evening it decreases.

Swelling of the feet in heart failure

Leg edema in heart failure is a very common phenomenon, since pathologies of the cardiovascular system are generally very widespread in modern society.

Heart failure is accompanied by the following characteristic symptoms:

  1. Swelling of the legs in the evening. This sign of heart disease is different from the pathology of the kidneys, in which swelling always occurs on the face, and in the morning.
  2. Dyspnea. It is also connected with the fact that the heart is not able to adequately drive blood through organs and tissues, therefore they constantly experience oxygen starvation.
  3. There is increased blood pressure, less often - low.
  4. Pain in the heart: most often bother the patient in the left half of the chest, as if squeezed.
  5. People suffer from rapid fatigue.

What should I do if my legs are swollen and you are worried about other causes of heart failure? It is necessary to come to the reception to a cardiologist or therapist. The doctor will examine you and prescribe additional studies: ECG, echocardiography, chest x-ray.

Thyroid Disorders

The cause of the formation of edema of the legs is hypothyroidism, insufficient activity of the thyroid gland. Pressing on the swollen place does not leave pits, tissues retain elasticity.

This condition is characterized by drowsiness, chilliness, frequent constipation. Often, swelling of the tongue and shoulders.

Medication swelling of the legs

Moderately pronounced leg edema can also occur with the use of certain medications. Drugs with a similar effect include estrogens, androgens, DOXA, licorice root preparations, reserpine. After the abolition of the corresponding drugs swelling pass.

People whose work involves prolonged standing (sellers, lifters) may experience orthostatic edema. Such edema appears on the feet and legs, mostly in the evening. They are expressed moderately and pass independently after rest.

Severe fatigue

Healthy people experience lower extremity edema after hard working days or stressful situations. Often, swelling occurs due to wearing uncomfortable shoes, especially high-heeled shoes.

It is quite simple to get rid of such phenomena: you need an hour of rest on a bed in a position with raised legs, as well as a relaxing foot bath and creams for tired legs on a plant-based basis.

Why do the legs swell in women?

Medical practice shows that the question "Your legs are swollen: what to do?" more often bothers women. In addition to the above pathologies that cause swelling in the left or right leg, the causes of women are complemented by premenstrual changes, pregnancy.

  1. Premenstrual swelling. It starts a few days before the start of menstruation. In addition to moderate swelling of the legs, face, women have a slight increase in body weight.
  2. Pregnancy. Legs swell during pregnancy due to an increase in blood plasma; reduce peripheral vascular resistance; growth of the uterus, accompanied by local hypertension in the veins of the lower extremities.

Causes of swelling of the feet in men

  1. The main cause of edema in men is chronic venous insufficiency, which is most often family-related.
  2. In addition, swelling of the legs can occur during prolonged static load or heavy physical work on the background of large losses of fluid from the sweat.
  3. By the same mechanism, legs swell in the summer in the heat with insufficient drinking load, tight shoes or sports.

What to do when legs swell?

Careful diagnostics, consultation of the therapist and duplex scanning are required, which will show the condition of your blood vessels - thrombosis, ischemia sites and cholesterol accumulations. The main question is what happens to the bloodstream and lymph flow? After that, it becomes clear whether additional research is needed, and in what direction to dig.

If both the cardiologist, and the neuropathologist, and the therapist shrug, and the swelling continues - this is clearly the kidney moments, they are most difficult to locate and find an explanation. The general principle is that heart problems on the legs appear after heavy physical exertion, towards the evening, towards morning, they subside, the kidneys are “visible” in the early morning, and varicose veins and blood flow problems occur during the day, in dynamics.

Home treatment

In the case of physiological edema recommendations how to remove swelling in the legs are as follows:

  • reduce salt intake (up to 1.5 mg per day);
  • do not abuse thirsty foods;
  • try not to limit physical activity (it is better to choose exercises in water, for example, aqua aerobics);
  • in case of edema, one should lie down for a quarter of an hour with raised legs, massage the legs;
    use compression knitwear (panty hoses).

After consulting a doctor, it is possible to use folk diuretics for edema of the legs:

  • decoctions of birch buds;
  • decoction of the bear's ear (or bearberry leaves);
  • steaming from horsetail;
  • cranberry juice;
  • parsley decoction;
  • cowberry juice.

It is better to refuse diuretics. But if treatment is impossible without them, then it is worth taking them with caution, especially if there are problems with the kidneys or the heart. During pregnancy, diuretics are contraindicated. Even if they are of vegetable origin.


Various loopbacks (furosemide, lasix, triphas), thiazide (indapamide, hypothiazide) and potassium-sparing (veroshpiron, spironolactone) diuretics are used. Frequency of administration, dosage form and duration of treatment depend on the degree of heart failure.

Severe edema is treated with injection loop diuretics with a gradual transition to tablet administration of identical or drugs from another group. Thiazide diuretics in combination with verospiron are more suitable for long-term anti-edema therapy. Potassium preparations (panangin, asparkam). Be sure to be included in the treatment loopback diuretics.

Therapeutic exercises

To prevent swelling of the legs will help the regular implementation of a set of simple exercises:

  • put the left foot on the right foot and raise the toe of the right foot as high as possible, then with the left foot;
  • stand on the socks for a few seconds;
  • move the body weight from the inside of the foot to the outside and, conversely, from the heels to the toe;
  • make a few light socks jumping;
  • in a sitting position on a chair, raise your legs and make circular movements with your feet;
  • toes bend and sharply flex.


If you are faced with the problem of edema, this means that your body is prone to fluid accumulation. Remember that in this case you should exclude from the diet:

  • salted foods;
  • roasted and salted;
  • mustard and vinegar;
  • flour;
  • foods high in sugar;
  • red meat;
  • milk and dairy products.

A sure way to clear the body of toxins - go to the so-called "unloading" diet. It will help you to remove harmful substances that make your bodies heavier and disturb the balance of the body.

Watch the video: Vein Closure & Leg Swelling: Michael D. Clark, MD at the Emory Vein Center Explains (January 2020).


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