Why do my legs get swelled badly?
● Leg swellings come from hypostasis.
Blood sent out from the heart comes back to the heart, but in order for blood sent out to the legs to come back, it must flow against gravity; therefore, strong interaction becomes necessary. Here, the leg muscles act as the pump to help that flow.
If you move your legs, your muscles contract and carry blood to the heart, but if you don’t move, blood will not go back and will stagnate in the lower half of your body. Thus, if you keep the same posture for hours on end-- for example, standing on your feet, or sitting down doing desk work-- your legs become swelled.
If you press your shin with your fingers for 2-3 minutes and find traces of your fingers left on it that is the sign that your legs are swelled.
● Women tend to suffer from swelling before their menstrual period begins.
This is a typical symptom of PMS (premenstrual syndrome), in which swelling occurs on the whole body or the face 4-5 days before the menstrual period begins. There are differences among individuals, but some people gain weight due to the swelling, and might find their everyday clothes tight.
These swellings occur because corpus luteum hormone, which stores up moisture in the body, increases before the menstrual period. Swelling that appears with the menstrual period is part of a normal rhythm of the body, so there is no need to worry so much about it as long as it is not too serious.
Moreover, bad circulation of the blood due to sensitivity to cold temperatures may cause the legs to swell.
● Swelling may be caused by eating habits
If you consume too much alcohol, or eat too much salty foods, you may find your face swelling up the morning after. Swelling occurs when you take too much salty food because your body stores up moisture to keep internal balance. Furthermore, eating habits lacking in vitamins and minerals may also be a cause for swelling.
● Swelling may be caused by disease of the whole body
In the case of serious swelling-- for example, if swelling of the whole body persists for a long period or your face is swollen like a balloon or your eyelids are swollen for an extended period of time, -- you might find there is a hidden disease.
Hypothyroid, which is a typical disease found in women, diseases affecting the kidneys, or heart-trouble may be a cause for the swelling, thus it would be wise to consult a physician or a gynecologist.
If you are pregnant, and the swelling never goes away, there is doubt of edema due to pregnancy (a symptom of pregnancy-induced hypertension). Thus, you should consult your physician as soon as possible.
If you neglect the swelling, it may cause hypostasis in the veins, which may result in “lower limb varicose veins”, where blood vessels stand out like a bump. According to some specialists, approximately 60 percent of women aged over 30 years have varicose veins.
There is almost no problem in leaving varicose veins as they are, but if you neglect a serious case of varicose veins for a long time, it might easily become a cause for impeded blood flow, resulting in an ulcer. Today, varicose veins may be removed in surgery, thus if you have a serious case of swelling and varicose veins, you should consult a vascular surgeon.
How can I avoid swelling?
● Move your leg muscles temperately
Common and temporal swelling may be taking care of through self-care, such as by taking protective and temporary measures. The basics in preventing swelling of the legs is to refrain from holding the same posture for long hours. If desk work continues for a long duration of time, you should try to move your leg muscles temperately by exercising occasionally or by walking around. You should avoid having your legs crossed, as it would hinder blood circulation. Elastic stockings that are available for sale at stores are effective for swelling, too.
● Try to use less salt and take more potassium
If you find that you swell easily, you should be careful not to take too much salt. You should keep in mind that a lot of salt is included in processed food and/or when you eat out. You should be wary of snacks, too.
On the other hand, a lack of potassium would induce swelling. Azuki beans, potatoes, pumpkins, cucumbers, tomatoes, bananas, apples and other fruits and vegetables as well as sea vegetables and mushrooms are rich in potassium. These minerals are apt to be lost by sweating and urinating, so they should be taken proactively.
What should I do if there is swelling?
● Try to promote blood circulation by massaging and stretching exercises
If your legs are swollen, you should promote blood circulation by massaging the calf muscles or do light stretching exercises. for massaging, you should work up, from the tip of your toes to the heart, as if to induce the lymph muscle fluid flow.
A footbath after you have come home is recommended for rectifying tiredness in the feet and relieving swelling. Raising your foot while you sleep by putting your feet on a cushion or zabuton (seat cushion) is effective, too.
● Cooling is effective in taking away edema or swelling on the face 〇
When your face is swollen from drinking too much, put some ice in a wet towel and press it against your face. After about 5 minutes or so, the swelling will go away. This is recommended because it can be done so easily, even during a busy morning, before putting on makeup.
Even if the swelling is heavy, blood circulation in the face will improve when the strain in the neck and shoulder are relieved. Thus, a shoulder massage or a light massage on the neck would be effective.
If only the eyelids are swollen, put cotton soaked with skin lotion on the eyelids for about 5 minutes, as you would do with a facial pack. The swelling would go away in seconds.
● Chinese medicine is effective, too.
If the swelling occurs before a menstrual period, treatment to alleviate PMS symptoms may be a way to relieve swelling. Likewise, if the swelling comes from sensitivity to the cold, swelling may be relieved by improving the body’s sensitivity to the cold. While Chinese medicine is used to treat patients with PMS and the body’s sensitivity to the cold, it is also used to rectify swelling, as it is sometimes effective for people to improve their body’s make-up in easy stages, using Chinese medicine. It might be a good idea to consult a pharmacy for Chinese medicine or the gynecologist. If you bring a doctor’s prescription, you can even buy them at a drugstore with insurance coverage.