Simple Ways to Manage Lower Extremity Edema

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Lower-extremity edema occurs when excess fluid accumulates in the legs, feet and ankles. A variety of conditions can lead to this condition, including issues with the lymphatic system and venous circulation, as well as heart failure and kidney disease. In some cases, medications also cause lower-extremity edema because they interfere with the natural sodium and water balance in the body. Over-the-counter remedies are generally considered safe if you’re prone to edema in your legs, but you should consult with your doctor before using them to be sure they’re appropriate for your particular condition.

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Edema, or fluid retention in the lower extremities, is a common problem for many people with chronic conditions. In fact, it’s been reported that about 75% of patients with chronic kidney disease experience some degree of edema. The good news is that there are lots of ways you can manage this condition without resorting to medication or surgery. 

Wear Supportive Clothing or Compression Stockings

Wearing supportive clothing or compression stockings can reduce swelling in the feet and ankles. If you wear shoes that are too tight, this can also cause lower-extremity edema. Wearing shoes that are roomy enough and have a wide toe box is important because this will prevent your toes from being constricted, which will help improve circulation which is one leg edema treatment method that can help.

You should also avoid crossing your legs when sitting or standing for long periods of time since this can restrict blood flow. If you have a desk job, it’s important to take regular breaks and get up and walk around every hour or so. Doing so will encourage better circulation in your legs as well as give them a chance to stretch out some.

Elevate Your Legs

Elevating your legs can be done by using a chair, couch, or even a stack of pillows. Elevating the feet about 12 inches can help reduce swelling. If you are lying down and cannot find anything else, you can use stacked towels, books or phone books under your feet. If you are sitting in a chair with low height (less than 12 inches), place a pillow behind the back of your knees so that they stay straight and do not bend at the knee. When sleeping on your back, put an extra pillow under the knees so they stay straight and do not bend at the knee.

Exercise

You can manage lower extremity edema by doing exercises that work your calf muscles. One such exercise is the calf raise. Stand with your feet shoulder distance apart and your toes pointing straight ahead. Slowly push up on your toes as high as you can, then slowly lower yourself back down. Repeat for 15 repetitions and do three sets of this exercise per day. You can also build up your calf muscles with more challenging exercises such as leg presses and step ups.

Limit Salt Intake

Eating too much salt can cause fluid retention in the body, so it’s important to keep an eye on your sodium intake. One way is by limiting the amount of sodium in your diet by avoiding fast food, processed foods, and canned goods. When reading labels, be sure to check the sodium content and opt for foods with less than 140 milligrams per serving. Watch out for hidden sources of salt too, such as soups and sauces, which can contain anywhere from 500 to 800 milligrams of sodium per serving!

Drink Plenty of Fluids

If you have lower extremity edema, drink plenty of fluids. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water and juices each day. Drink enough to keep your urine a light color, but not too much that you have an urge to go all the time. In addition, make sure you are eating enough salt so your blood pressure stays normal. If all else fails, talk with your doctor about taking prescription medicine for the swelling that doesn’t respond well to other remedies.

When to consult doctor for lower extremity edema?

If you have been experiencing swollen legs for more than a day and the swelling is worsening, it could be an indication of vascular insufficiency. If your symptoms are severe, call your doctor and make an appointment as soon as possible. Untreated lower extremity edema can result in blood clots and lead to life-threatening conditions. If you have lymphoedema or another form of chronic edema, consult with your doctor for edema about treatment options that will help manage the condition.

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