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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Leg edema is swelling caused by fluid buildup. Your legs may swell if you sit or stand for long periods of time, are pregnant, or are injured. Swelling may also occur if you have heart failure or circulation problems. This means that your heart does not pump blood through your body as it should.
- Elevate your legs: Raise your legs above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop your legs on pillows or blankets to keep them elevated comfortably.
- Wear pressure stockings: These tight stockings put pressure on your legs to promote blood flow and prevent blood clots. Wear the stockings during the day. Do not wear them while you sleep.
- Apply heat: Heat helps decrease pain and swelling. Apply heat on the area for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours for as many days as directed.
- Stay active: Do not stand or sit for long periods of time. Ask your primary healthcare provider about the best exercise plan for you.
- Eat healthy foods: Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Ask if you need to be on a special diet. Limit salt. Salt will make your body hold even more fluid.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Contact your primary healthcare provider if:
- You have a fever or feel more tired than usual.
- The veins in your legs look larger than usual. They may look full or bulging.
- Your legs itch or feel heavy.
- You have red or white areas or sores on your legs. The skin may also appear dimpled or have indentations.
- You are gaining weight.
- You have trouble moving your ankles.
- The swelling does not go away, or other parts of your body swell.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Return to the emergency department if:
- You cannot walk.
- You feel faint or confused.
- Your skin turns blue or gray.
- Your leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may be swollen and red.
- You have chest pain or trouble breathing that is worse when you lie down.
- You suddenly feel lightheaded and have trouble breathing.
- You have new and sudden chest pain. You may have more pain when you take deep breaths or cough. You may also cough up blood.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.