Swelling hands and feet: Should you be worried?

Oedema, otherwise known as dropsy is a condition typified by swelling and puffiness. The hands and feet are common sites for this to occur. Often the puffiness will get worse as the day goes on or in hot weather, and will return to normal after resting or in the morning. If it does not improve, it may require medical monitoring.

Why are they swelling?
Oedema is generally caused by fluid retention in your body. If you have swelling fingers, ankles and feet, your GP will look for traces of protein in the urine or an increase in blood pressure as these signs can indicate preeclampsia, which may cause kidney or liver damage in the mother or affect the baby’s growth.

DIY intervention

• Wear support stockings or socks to prevent fluid build-up. Avoid wearing clothing, shoes, socks, and even rings that are too tight, as they can constrict your circulation and make the swelling worse.
• Avoid stress if possible. Stress can cause an excessive production of anti-diuretic hormones, which cause your kidneys to retain more fluid. Do some exercise to help keep your kidneys and colon work efficiently. If you are not used to exercise, avoid rigorous exercises.
• Do some foot exercise to improve blood circulation around your feet and ankles, as well as prevent cramps around your calves. Foot exercise is simple and you can do it while standing or sitting. To exercise your foot, simply bend and stretch it up and down co times. Rotate it clockwise eight times, and counter-clockwise eight times. Exercise one foot at a time.
• Avoid standing for long periods.
• Put your feet up at least an hour a day. When putting your feet up, make sure they are up higher than your heart.
• Avoid foods that are high in salt as salt contributes to your body retaining water.

Oedema as Danger Sign
Although uncomfortable, oedema isn’t harmful, as long as it developed gradually. But, if your face, hands and feet suddenly swell up, you need to see your GP immediately. This could be a sign of preeclampsia, a pregnancy induced hypertension. However, don’t panic. Not all women who experienced sudden swelling had preeclampsia. But it is better to know for certain.

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