Tap to Read ➤

How to Reduce Swelling

Swelling in any part of the body is clinically termed as edema. Let us discuss how to reduce swelling.
Rajib Singha
When excess body fluid gets trapped in the tissues, the action is manifested by swelling, that is commonly noticed in the arms, hands, feet, legs, and ankles. There could be a variety of reasons which trigger the swelling, and the pain and discomfort that accompanies it.
This condition, if ignored, may give rise to complications like scarring, difficulty in walking, stiffness in the affected area, risk of infection, impaired blood circulation, and ulceration.

What Causes Edema?

One common factor that causes this condition is some kind of trauma to the affected area. Twisting an ankle while running, getting injured on the calf while playing football, etc., are known to be the common reasons behind swelling.
Other mild causes include sitting or standing in one position for a prolonged period of time, and a high-sodium diet. Swollen hands and feet, and facial swelling are common during pregnancy. Besides these causes, there are certain underlying medical conditions that lead to edema. They include:
  • Disease of the kidneys
  • Kidney damage
  • Weak veins in legs
  • Impaired function of the lymphatic system
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Cirrhosis
In some patients, certain medications may give rise to ankle pain and edema. The common ones could be estrogens, calcium channel blockers, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, etc.

How to Manage Edema

Treating the underlying cause helps reduce the symptoms of edema. Reducing salt content in the diet is also a part of the treatment. Apart from what the doctors recommend, you can take some self-care measures at home to hasten the recovery period. They are as follows:
► Use a cold compress to significantly reduce the swelling in areas such the eyes, upper cheeks, and upper nose. To make a cold compress at home, simply get some ice cubes and place them in a plastic bag. Now wrap this bag with a clean towel, and apply it to the swollen area.
► Gently massaging the area would help stimulate the blood circulation, and thereby reduce the swelling. Ensure that you apply gentle but firm pressure while massaging.
► Wearing compression socks, sleeves, and gloves enhances the blood flow in the swollen area and alleviates the symptoms. They work by maintaining the pressure in the affected areas, and thus prevent them from accumulating more fluid.
► Keep the swollen hand or leg at an elevated position. For instance, if your legs have swollen, keep them at an elevated position with the help of two or three pillows. This has to be done at least for 30 minutes, three to four times a day.
► As mentioned, excess sodium in the diet is also one of the causes of edema. Therefore, minimizing the intake of salty foods can make a great difference. Fresh fruits and vegetables should make up for a larger part of the diet, instead of foods that are high in fat.
► Physical activities which help move the muscles in the swollen part of the body also adds to the treatment. However, such activities work well when done under the guidance of a professional.
► It is equally important to be aware of factors which may worsen edema. One of them is exposure to extreme temperatures. That is why patients are advised to avoid hot showers, hot saunas, and exposing themselves to freezing temperatures.
Complications of edema could be severe, if the condition does not receive timely treatment. So monitor the symptoms closely, if any, and in case of an unexplained swelling, consult your doctor at the earliest.
Disclaimer: This is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.