A blanket term to define any localized swelling that is caused by excess fluid trapped in body tissues, Edema can occur in any part of the body, but most commonly arises in the feet, ankles, and legs. The condition is associated with a number of prescription medications including high blood pressure pharmaceuticals, steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, estrogen supplements, and thiazolidinedione-based diabetes drugs.
Other causes of edema range from the ordinary (such as consuming too much salt and standing/sitting in one position for an extended period of time) to the extremely serious (such as heart failure, kidney disease, and cirrhosis of the liver). Because edema can be the sign of a potentially life-threatening condition, individuals who are concerned by persistent localized swelling are encouraged to seek the help of a qualified medical professional in a timely fashion.
While mild cases of edema typically go away without medical intervention, more serious cases require treatment through some combination of physical therapy such raising affecting limbs higher than the heart and drugs such as furosemide (sold commercially as Lasix). Lasix and other diuretic drugs work by encouraging the human body expel surplus liquid in the form of urine.
For patients who want to combat edema without resorting to drugs, compression stockings are a great treatment option.
Elastic socks that apply gentle but firm pressure to the lower extremities, compression stockings are designed to prevent the buildup of excess fluid and thereby combat bodily swelling. The socks secure the ankles most tightly, and they gradually relax pressure as they travel up the legs.
Extremely effective in the mitigation or eradication of edema, compression stockings apply just the right amount of pressure to keep tissue from expanding. They also improve blood flow by decreasing the accumulation of blood in the lower legs and forcing blood to circulate upwards, returning it to the heart.
Patients should wear compression stockings throughout the day when long periods of sitting and standing, coupled with the force of gravity, can cause inordinate amounts of blood and other fluids to pool in the legs, ankles, and feet. However, the stockings should be removed at night to allow for free circulation as the body lies in a horizontal position.
Of course, like all health, wellness, and medical products, compression stockings are most effective when used under the direction of a trained medical authority.
For more information about dealing with swollen legs and the therapeutic applications of compression stockings, contact Dr. Chris Pittman and the Tampa, Florida medical specialists at Vein 911.