Swelling of legs

Legs | General Practice | Swelling of legs (Disease)


Leg edema is a common sign, which occurs when excess interstitial fluid accumulates in one or both legs. Edema can only affect foot and ankle or extend to the thighs.

Causes and Risk factors

Leg edema can be caused by vascular disease, trauma and certain heart and bone disorders that disrupt normal fluid balance. Also, various mechanisms may contribute to the development no pathologic this edema. For example, prolonged standing or prolonged immobilization can cause bilateral orthostatic edema. Increased venous blood, which occurs at an advanced stage of pregnancy can cause swelling of the ankles. Tights or garters tight can cause swelling of the legs. A slight edema to severe pain and tissue damage can occur within 2 days after a leg burn.

Caused by streptococcal or staphylococcal infection that usually affects the legs, cellulitis produces swelling and color of skin, with erythema, warmth and tenderness in the affected area. Cirrhosis commonly causes bilateral edema associated with ascites, jaundice and increase in size of the abdomen. Malnourished patients may develop bilateral leg edema secondary to protein and osmotic pressure. Bilateral leg edema is an early sign of right heart failure. Other signs and symptoms include weight gain despite anorexia, nausea, chest pressure, hypotension, pallor, tachypnea, dyspnea, orthopnea, paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea, palpitations, ventricular gallop. Ankle edema, hepatomegaly, hemoptysis, and cyanosis signal more advanced heart failure. Unilateral or bilateral swelling of the legs occurs in patients with this disease that generally affects women. A localized edema (moderate to severe) may develop at the bite or sting, with redness, pain, hives, itching and burning.

Leg edema can be caused by certain drugs, such as estrogen, contraceptives, lithium, drugs, vasodilators and drugs that cause sodium retention in the body. When osteomyelitis affects the leg, usually produces a localized edema, light to severe, which may extend to neighboring joints. Nephrotic syndrome is commonly seen in children, and causes of bilateral leg edema. It is associated with polyuria and eyelid edema. Venography is a rare cause of leg edema. A localized edema may form around the trauma.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The treatment for leg swelling depends on the cause.

(1) Treatment for leg swelling may include:

(2) Elastic support hose

(3) Leg elevation

(4) Low salt diet

(5) Medication for leg swelling:

(6) Diuretics

Weight loss...

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