Have you ever noticed swelling in your feet after a long walk or on your hand after a bee stings you? Swelling is typically your body's response to illness or injury and, in some cases, chronic health conditions.
If you notice swelling, something is going on in your body, causing fluids to build up in your skin or organs, which often triggers other symptoms. Never ignore swelling, which can lead to dangerous complications and long-term health problems.
Our Vein, Heart, and Vascular Institute team provides care for various cardiac and vein issues that can result in swelling.
Dr. Hesham Fakhri and Dr. Octavio Cosme are both board-certified cardiologists who diagnose and treat different swelling causes quickly.
What is swelling?
Swelling is an enlargement of the organs, tissues, or skin due to retained fluids. Doctors also call swelling by the medical term “edema.”
You can experience acute swelling from an injury or illness, or chronic edema due to medical or heart problems. Other causes of swelling include:
- Thyroid disorders
- Kidney disease
- Liver failure
- Sprains or strains
- Broken bones
- Heart failure
Infections, insect bites, or hormonal changes during menstruation can cause swelling in other areas of your body, often leading to other symptoms.
Too much salt in your diet or overall poor nutrition can also cause swelling throughout your body. Not all swelling is an immediate cause for concern, especially in the hot summer months after you eat a salty meal.
But if swelling persists or you notice rapid weight gain and fluid retention in your legs and abdomen, don't ignore the problem. It could be a sign of deep vein thrombosis or congestive heart failure.
Never ignore swelling, even if you think it's not a big deal. While swelling after an injury is your body's usual way of protecting the injury, this isn't always the case.
Without treatment, swelling causes serious complications, including pain, as your skin, organs, or joints get tighter. Five other complications related to swelling include:
As your skin becomes tighter from edema, you may have stiffness in the surrounding joints, causing trouble walking and doing normal activities.
Fluid buildup under the skin stretches out the skin, which can cause itching and sores to develop with long-term edema.
Open sores can form from chronic swelling or edema. These sores can become infected if you’re not careful.
Skin ulcers can develop as your skin stretches due to swelling, and your skin becomes thin and brittle. A sore develops due to the lack of circulation.
Scarring between tissues
Chronic swelling may lead to scarring in your leg tissues, causing pain and other issues over time.
Swelling also reduces blood flow to the area. Decreased blood flow causes various problems, including reduced wound healing and circulatory issues.
Your veins and arteries may also become tight from swelling, making them less likely to stretch to accommodate your body's needs.
When to seek treatment for swelling
If you notice swelling, see a doctor, no matter how mild it seems. People who experience swelling during pregnancy or from being on their feet all day may not need immediate care.
But if you have swelling that persists after home care or comes on suddenly and is accompanied by other symptoms, seek treatment from our team immediately.
If you experience swelling related to an injury, get help as soon as possible to avoid long-term complications and further damage.
Swelling also leads to other issues and symptoms, some extremely dangerous to your health. If you experience swelling along with any of these symptoms, seek medical help immediately:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Warmth or redness
- Extreme pain
- Weeping from the site
We help get to the bottom of the issue causing swelling and provide treatments to get you relief.
Call one of our offices in Wesley Chapel, Sun City Center, or Tampa, Florida, for treatment for various forms of swelling, or request an appointment online today.