Swollen feet, legs and varicose veins
Edema, the technical name for swollen feet, ankles and legs, is caused by fluid retention in the lower half of the body. Varicose veins occur when valves inside blood vessels in the legs become soft or weak, which allows the blood to flow backward, pool and form painful bulges. Although the swelling should subside, some varicose veins are there to stay. Surgery is one way to remove them, but it's costly. To ease the discomfort of both edema and varicose veins:
- Put your feet up often, switch standing and sitting positions frequently, and never cross your legs. Lie down whenever possible, preferably on your side.
- Wear support hose, which may help soothe the aches and diminish the appearance of varicose veins. Avoid wearing anything that reduces circulation, like knee-high stockings.
- Don't limit fluids to try to minimize puffiness. Your body will respond by hanging on to liquids even more.
- Soak in the tub. Studies show that the pressure of even a foot of water reduces discomfort.