Seemingly minor everyday habits can cause mild edema. However, in some cases, edema may signify a more serious underlying medical condition.
Edema is the medical term for swelling in the limbs. Edema occurs when blood vessels leak fluid, causing the surrounding tissues to swell. It can cause the skin to feel stretched, look shiny, and leave a lingering indentation in your skin when you press on it. This puffiness can occur anywhere in the body but is most noticeable in the legs, feet, arms, and ankles.
Certain medications for high blood pressure or diabetes can cause your limbs to swell. Edema can also be a common symptom of some chronic health conditions, such as venous insufficiency, the root cause of varicose veins.
Venous insufficiency & edema: the connection
Swelling is the result of blood vessels leaking fluid into surrounding tissues. When you sit for long periods or consume too much salt, you may experience mild, temporary swelling. Pregnancy can cause temporary edema, as well.
Suppose persistent swelling occurs in the legs and feet, and you experience other symptoms such as itching, aching, or cramping. In that case, you may be suffering from venous insufficiency. Venous insufficiency is also known as vein disease.
Venous insufficiency occurs when the tiny valves in the leg veins tasked with pushing blood back to the heart weaken, causing blood to pool in the veins. Fluid then leaks into surrounding tissues as the vein becomes swollen and turns into a varicose vein. Some varicose veins form deeper within the leg and may not show visible symptoms, but your legs will still feel the swollen and painful effects.
If left untreated, venous insufficiency can lead to skin ulcers and other risky complications such as blood clots or deep vein thrombosis (DVT). It is essential to prevent the clot from traveling to the lungs and causing a life-threatening pulmonary embolism. If you experience excessive swelling, reddish-colored skin, and more pain, seek immediate medical attention.
Diagnosing and treating edema
Treating edema starts with addressing the underlying cause. Your doctor may recommend diuretics which can help expel excess fluid. Limiting your salt intake can also reduce swelling.
But don’t stop taking any medications if you think the drugs are causing the swelling. Talk to your doctor instead about adjusting the dosage to bring down the edema.
Your doctor can perform a physical exam and order imaging tests to determine if venous insufficiency is the underlying cause of your edema.
Elevating your legs above your heart can alleviate mild or temporary edema. Elevation pushes the blood to the heart and relieves swelling. Your doctor may also recommend you wear compression stockings to gently squeeze the leg veins and promote healthy blood flow.
However, these at-home remedies will only temporarily reduce venous insufficiency symptoms such as edema. For a permanent solution, you may need to undergo a medical procedure. Fortunately, today’s treatment options are minimally invasive, quick, office-based, and require little to no anesthesia. You can return to your normal activities with minor restrictions.
Don’t neglect problem veins!
A qualified vein specialist should assess any excessive and persistent swelling in your legs and feet. Center for Vein Restoration (CVR) specializes in treating venous insufficiency (vein disease). The professional treatment offered by a CVR vein physician eliminates the pain and swelling of varicose veins so you can start living a pain-free life. Contact us for a consultation!