What Could Be Causing Your Legs to Swell?

Leg swelling is a common condition. Leg swelling, or edema, affects anyone and any age, and can be caused by a number of different factors. The best thing you can do if you have leg swelling is to talk with your doctor at American Foot and Leg Specialists who can treat the issue. In the meantime, here are some things that could be contributing to your edema.

  • Tiny valves inside the veins of the legs can become weakened, causing a common problem called venous insufficiency. This problem makes it more difficult for the veins to pump blood back to the heart, and leads to varicose veins and buildup of fluid.
  • Prolonged standing or sitting can cause excess fluid to accumulate in the feet, ankles and lower legs. This is most common in hot weather.
  • Severe chronic lung diseases, such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis, increase pressure in the blood vessels that lead from the heart to the lungs. This pressure backs up in the heart. The higher pressure causes swelling in the legs and feet.
  • Congestive heart failure. Swelling is often most visible in the feet and ankles, as the heart has a tougher time circulating blood, thus causing fluid to build up.
  • Pregnancy can cause swelling in the legs as the uterus puts pressure on the vena cava. Fluid retention during pregnancy also can be caused by a more serious condition called preeclampsia.
  • Low protein levels in the blood caused by malnutrition, kidney and liver disease can cause edema. The proteins help to hold salt and water inside the blood vessels so fluid does not leak out into the tissues. If a blood protein, called albumin, gets too low, fluid is retained and edema occurs, especially in the feet, ankles and lower legs.

Symptoms vary according to the type of edema and its location. Contact your specialist at American Foot and Leg to determine the cause of leg swelling. The sooner you treat the problem, the better chance you have of success.