Swollen feet and legs, referred to medically as edema, occur when fluid is retained in the spaces between body cells. Edema typically affects the feet, ankles and lower legs, but can also impact any area of the body, causing systemic symptoms.
Edema can be caused by a serious condition of the kidney, heart, liver or blood vessels, but many other factors can contribute to its onset, including:
Initially, the feet and legs will appear swollen as the day progresses, but after a period of time, the swelling will set in first thing in the morning and continue to worsen throughout the day. Long-term edema causes pitting: When you press on the swollen area for a few seconds, you will notice an indentation in that area. Continued swelling can cause skin ulcerations.
Over time, other symptoms will develop:
The hallmark of treatment is to reduce the swelling, and the first line of defense: leg elevation. Elevate legs above the level of the heart, which puts minimal pressure on the backs of the knees and thighs and lower back. Just sitting in a reclining chair in front of the TV is a great way to elevate your legs. Many products, for use at home or at work, can also help reduce swelling.
If the edema persists or continues to worsen, please consult your physician.
Source: the Podiatry Institute