For those that do a lot of standing and walking, swollen feet and ankles are expected and shouldn’t be a bother. However, a prolonged swelling in the feet and ankles or one that is followed by other signs may symptomise a chronic health concern.
In today’s post, we will be discussing those factors that can trigger swollen feet and ankles and when you need a doctor’s help.
- Complications in pregnancy. Women that are pregnant typically experience swollen feet and ankles. But a chronic or sudden swelling could be a symptom of preeclampsia. This is a severe problem caused by the development of high blood pressure and urine protein after the pregnancy has passed 20 weeks. Should you be having chronic swelling or a swelling followed by symptoms like headaches, pain in the abdomen, visual alterations, nausea and vomiting, or uncommon urination, don’t hesitate to see your doctor.
- Injury in the ankle or foot. The chances are that you may have swelling following a foot or ankle injury. A very common injury is an ankle sprain. When the ligaments keeping the ankle in position are extended farther than their normal limit as a result of an injury or a false step, it is called sprained ankle. A remedy for a swollen foot or ankle would be to take some rest to stop putting movement pressure on the affected foot or ankle, get ice packs, use a compression bandage to wrap the foot or ankle with, and keep the foot raised on a pillow or low stool. Where at-home treatment is not easing the pain or swelling, please, it’s time to have a doctor see that foot or ankle.
- Lymphedema. When the lymph nodes are taken out, problematic or absent, lymphatic fluids can collect in the tissue and cause what is known as lymphedema. A lymph is a fluid packed with protein that moves through so many vessels and capillaries. This fluid as it passes through the lymph nodes, is filtered, and bacteria plus other toxins are held back and destroyed. Problematic lymph nodes or vessels can block the travel path of the fluid. When not treated, accumulated lymph will not allow the wound to heal, leading to deformity and infection. Post radiation therapy and surgical removal of lymph nodes in cancer patients will see the usual occurrence of lymphedema. Should you be having swelling after getting treatment for cancer, kindly meet with your healthcare provider. They may recommend a thalassemia test.
- Venous insufficiency. An issue with blood not moving in the right amount from the feet and legs to the heart. An early sign of this problem is swollen feet and ankles. The usual thing is that veins retain upward blood flow with one-way valves. In a case where the valves are weak or damaged, the blood will flow downwards, and fluids collect in the soft tissues of the lower part of the legs, particularly the feet and ankles. If venous insufficiency is severe, it will bring about infection, skin ulcers, and changes in the skin. Are you having venous insufficiency symptoms? Book a doctor’s appointment to be examined.
- Infection. Swollen feet and ankles could be indicative of an infection. Foot infection is likely to happen in persons whose feet nerves are problematic, including diabetic neuropathy. Should you be diabetic, it’s critical you check your feet every day to see if they are sored or blistered. This is because a damaged nerve could make you not feel any pain, and foot issues can rapidly increase. Should you have an infected, swollen or blistered foot, please see a doctor at once. Need help with caring for your feet as a diabetic? See our team.
- Blood clot. When the veins of the leg have blood clots, blood may not return to the heart but will rather cause swollen ankles and feet. There are superficial blood clots (those occurring in the veins right under the skin), or deep blood clots (aka deep vein thrombosis).
A single or multiple relevant veins of the legs can be blocked by deep clots. You may have a serious problem if a deep blood clot breaks open and moves to the lungs and heart. Seek urgent medical attention should one of your legs be swollen in addition to causing you pain, mild fever and colour change in the impacted leg. Your doctor may recommend blood thinners to treat the condition, or you can have a thalassaemia blood test at our clinic.
- Heart, kidney or liver disease. There are times when a problem with vital organs such as the kidney, heart and liver may be symptomised by swelling. If the right side of the heart is failing, it can cause salt and water retention, which brings about swollen ankles in the evening. Even a diseased kidney can make the ankle and feet swell. A malfunctioning kidney will cause the body to accumulate fluid. A diseased liver will discontinue the release of albumin – an important protein that retains the blood inside the vessels from leaking into the tissues around. When albumin is not enough in the body, fluids will leak. The effect of gravity encourages fluid retention in the ankles and feet. However, the abdomen and chest can suffer fluid retention as well. Call your doctor immediately where swelling is followed by symptoms including weight gain, zero appetites, and fatigue. Call our emergency helpline for cases of breathlessness, pain, pressure or tightness in the chest.
- Side effects of drugs. Most medications are likely to trigger swollen feet and ankles. We are talking of drugs like:
- Calcium channel blockers which is a type of drug that controls blood pressure. It includes nifedipine, amlodipine, etc
- Hormones such as estrogen contained in oral birth control, testosterone, and hormone replacement therapy
- Drugs for the treatment of diabetes
- NSAIDs – Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Antidepressants, including tricyclics like nortriptyline and others
- Steroids (prednisone, anabolic and androgenic steroids)
Should you believe that a medication is causing a swell in your feet or ankle, talk to your doctor about it. While certain effective drugs may cause swelling, which you should be patient about, chronic swelling may necessitate changing the dosage of the drug or the drug itself. Should you need a thalassemia blood test, don’t hesitate to speak with our doctor at Private Blood Tests London, and we would be glad to help you.