It can be pretty alarming to look down and see that your feet are puffed up like balloons. Dr. Kenneth R. Wilhelm of Clifton Foot & Ankle Center spells out some of the reasons behind swollen feet and ankles and what you can do about them.

Why your feet are swollen

When body tissues retain water, they swell up. You might hear Dr. Wilhelm say that you have edema. Edema is a result of various conditions, some of which are common and treatable at home. They should be watched, but aren’t cause for great alarm:

  • Pregnancy – swollen feet and ankles are ubiquitous in pregnant women due to changing hormones and extra weight. Elevating the feet usually helps swelling to subside.
  • Drugs – swollen limbs are a common side effect of a number of medications. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure the swelling is temporary.
  • Tight clothing – anything that constricts your lower limbs prevents blood from circulating away from your feet. Remove those too-small shoes or that tight elastic pant cuff and you should see immediate improvement.
  • Lack of movement – staying seated for long periods of time causes pooling of fluids in your feet. Get up and walk around every hour when you’re on a plane or working at your desk.
  • Fluid retention – a high-salt diet and not drinking enough water are two reasons your body may be retaining fluids.

Other causes of edema should raise some alarms:

  • Pregnant women whose edema comes on suddenly or isn’t relieved by elevating the feet should see their doctor to rule out a serious condition called preeclampsia.
  • Problems with your kidneys, liver, blood vessels, or heart may manifest themselves in swollen feet.
  • If you’ve sustained a foot or ankle injury, swelling indicates tissue damage of some degree. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Wilhelm to make sure there’s nothing broken.

If you have questions or concerns about swollen feet – or any problems you’re having with your feet or ankles – contact board-certified podiatrist Dr. Wilhelm for a full diagnosis and expert treatment at our podiatry practice in Fairfax County. Our number in Centreville, VA is (703) 996-3000.

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