In our Houston area vein clinics, we see many people with edema—swelling that’s a result of fluid build-up. Most of the patients we see for edema have swelling in their legs or feet; it’s because fluid has become trapped in the soft tissues of their legs due to malfunctioning valves in their veins.
If you have swollen legs or feet, the edema could be a symptom of vein disease: when the valves in your leg veins weaken or fail, the blood can no longer be pumped properly out of your legs. This causes blood and fluid to stick around and, as the fluid builds up, your leg may begin to swell—hence, edema.
Now this is the primary cause of swelling in a vein clinic, but other factors may leave you with edema as well. But, if your legs are swollen and you’ve ruled out the following potential causes, it’s a good idea to come and see us for a diagnostic ultrasound to rule out vein disease.
5 Reasons Your Feet Swell That Aren’t Vein Disease
Already ruled out these potential causes? It’s time to see your vein doc. Otherwise, check and see if:
You’ve spent a long time flying or driving
As it turns out, you can develop vein-disease like symptoms from sitting too long. That’s because your veins get less effective at pushing blood up to your heart, allowing it to pool and making your feet swell up. Why? The problem is sitting: it limits your muscle contractions, making it harder for blood to move. But the position also pushes on your veins, which further reduces the blood flow…and, voila, edema!
Your Lifestyle is Sedentary
When you don’t exercise, your circulatory system can become compromised. Especially if you’re also carrying extra weight around. Bring those two factors together, and swollen feet and legs may be the result.
You’ve Been Slamming Salty Snacks
This cause of edema actually has nothing to do with your blood flow. Plain and simple—salt makes you retain water. And if that water sticks around your feet and legs, they get swollen!
When you’re dealing with injuries in your feet or ankles—whether it’s an acute issue like a sprain or fracture, or an overuse injury like shin splints—swelling may ensue. And while this may look like edema, the symptom is completely unrelated, and will only disappear when your underlying injury is treated.
You’re Taking A New Medication
Some medications can cause fluid retention or swelling in your legs, ankles or feet. So if your edema appears shortly after starting a new drug—especially for conditions like high blood pressure—check in with your prescribing doctor to see if the two are connected.
Now we’ve thoroughly explored non-vascular edema triggers. So, we have to remind you: lots of times, this symptom is an indication of problems in your veins. And that means that, if you’ve got swollen legs and you’re not sure why, go and see an experienced vein specialist to get a diagnosis.