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Reduce Swelling in Feet
Try these 7 natural remedies to reduce swelling in your feet.
by Leo Akin
Swelling of the feet and ankles is a common problem, especially among elderly people. It is a condition where the muscles in the feet have excessive water retention.
Slight swelling of the lower legs commonly occurs during the warm summer months. It is more likely to occur if the person has been standing or sitting for too long.
What Are The Causes of Swelling?
Two of the most common causes associated with swelling in feet during pregnancy are weakening of the arches and edema. Edema is a condition in which the extra fluid in your body is stored in the hands and feet.
Several women experience edema, typically during the last trimester of pregnancy, and especially in the summer months.
The swollen feet may turn purplish in color. Edema caused by pregnancy usually disappears after delivery, but if it appears more prominent in one foot than the other or affects the face, consult your doctor immediately.
Swelling may also be caused by a serious underlying condition of the kidney, heart, liver or blood vessels. Some other causes of swelling are:
7 Treatments for Swollen Feet
Treatment usually depends on the cause of the swelling. Some of the most commonly used treatment options to get rid of water retention in feet are:
Over-the-counter diuretics: The prescription diuretics help to alleviate water retention or edema. They work by flushing out excess fluid, without removing necessary minerals and vitamins from the body.
Some diuretics can, however, remove some essential minerals especially potassium and, to a lesser extent, calcium and magnesium.
There are three classes of diuretics used in treating edema including peripheral edema under which swollen feet can be classified. The three types of diuretics are loop diuretics, thiazide diuretics and potassium-sparing diuretics.
Loop diuretics and thiazide diuretics act on a group of transporter complexes in the nephrons of the kidneys. These transporter complexes (or symporters) are responsible for the reabsorption of sodium, potassium and chloride ions from the tubules of the kidney back into the blood.
When these diuretics block the symporters in order to prevent sodium reabsorption (and also prevent water reabsorption by extension), potassium is also not reabsorbed but lost too.
Since potassium is essential for a number of processes and organ-systems in the body, including the heart and nerves, its loss alongside water and sodium is a disadvantage for these diuretics.
There are different ways by which this disadvantage of potassium loss can be overcome. One way is to add potassium to these diuretics. For example, Lasix (Furosemide) is also available as Lasix-K, a formulation including Furosemide and a Potassium salt.
Another way to overcome this disadvantage is simply to take potassium supplements along with regular diuretics.
The third alternative means of preventing unwanted potassium loss is to take a drug from the third class of diuretics. Potassium-sparing diuretics have one thing in common: they do not promote potassium loss.
This is possible because these diuretics do not act at the transporter complexes responsible for both sodium and potassium reabsorption.
Rather, potassium-sparing diuretics reduce edema by either acting on ion channels which solely control sodium reabsorption or by inhibiting the aldosterone released by the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system.
Of the three classes of diuretics, both thiazide and potassium-sparing diuretics also spare calcium. Therefore, they are sometimes also called calcium-sparing diuretics.
Calcium-sparing diuretics are important especially for women who have a high risk of osteoporosis.
Drink water: You must drink eight to ten glasses of water every day. Although edema is referred to as fluid retention, drinking plenty of clear fluids, such as water, will flush out toxins and excess fluid accumulation.
Often fluid retention in the body is one of the body’s responses to dehydration. Granted swelling in the feet can only be an exaggerated response but drinking more water sometimes work to relieve this form of peripheral edema.
The retention of water in the body is controlled by a complex system involving the interactions of different hormones.
The renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system is the most important biochemical control used by the body to regulate water levels in the body.
When this system is activated in the brain, it starts off a chain reaction that causes water reabsorption in the kidneys. This activation is often prompted by dehydration.
Another reflex activated by dehydration is thirst which is a craving for water.
When the body recognizes that the water level in the body is high, it turns off the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system in order to allow fluids to be driven out of the body in urine. Drinking more water is a paradoxical way to get the body to deactivate this system and thus bring down the swelling in the feet.
Elevate your legs: Elevating your legs with the help of a pillow to support your knees and ankles while lying down can help reduce swelling in feet. It also improves blood circulation that may be restricted because of edema.
Invest in support stockings: Wear compression stockings while standing for long periods of time to reduce water retention. These stockings apply gentle pressure to the legs, stimulating proper circulation, and reducing swelling.
Compression stockings are different from the regular anti-embolism stockings usually given in hospitals to patients who are non-ambulatory.
Compression stockings are made of elastic materials. They can help reducing swelling in the feet by applying graduated pressure on the legs. These stockings exert the highest pressure at the ankles. This pressure eases all the way up the legs.
Compression stockings can be knee-length, thigh-length or pantyhose. They help constrict the blood vessels in the feet to improve blood flow as well as stimulate the lymphatic system to drive back fluids from the legs to the lymph nodes.
These stockings apply different pressure. Support compression stockings provide the least pressure (usually less than 20 mmHg). This kind is available at local drug stores and can be bought without a doctor’s prescription.
Compression stockings providing high pressures require prescriptions.
This is important not only to achieve a perfect fit for the swollen leg but also to prevent the blockage of arterial blood flow. The Ankle Brachial Index or ABI needs to be calculated by a health worker for these high pressure compression stockings.
Compression stockings do work for swollen legs especially when combined with light, regular exercises. Their effects are comparable to those of feet massages except they offer passive pressure but for longer.
Cold compresses: Try cold compresses to alleviate swelling caused by fluid retention. You can also apply cold compresses in the swollen area to ease inflammation and stretching of the skin.
Foods to avoid: There are several foods that you must avoid, such as white flour foods, processed foods, sugary foods and drinks, coffee, black tea, and alcohol.
Natural alternative: Capisette is a natural remedy for fluid retention. It contains the naturally diuretic properties available in several herbs and other supplements that are helpful in addressing water retention issues.
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Capisette helps with reducing swelling and reducing edema by providing your body with the electrolytes needed to restore proper fluid tranfer in your cells. It then gets rid of excess fluid with natural diuretics.