advertisement



Q & A Library


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Q
Why Do Feet Swell?

 Is there anything I can take to minimize swelling in my feet? Why does this happen?

A
Answer (Published 11/7/2006)

Swollen feet are a common problem. Sometimes, the swelling is simply a matter of gravity - when you stand or sit in one place too long, fluid from elsewhere in your body is pulled down into your feet. Another common cause is venous insufficiency, a weakening of the valves in the veins in your legs. As a result, back pressure increases in the veins, and fluid leaks into the tissues. (this is often associated with varicose veins.) Pregnancy can also cause the legs and feet to swell - here the problem is the pressure on veins from the expanding uterus and extra blood needed to grow a child. In addition, congestive heart failure, as well as such conditions as emphysema and bronchitis may cause or worsen swelling. Chronic liver or kidney failure can also cause the problem, as can thyroid disease. Obviously, it is important to rule out these more serious health concerns if you have chronically swollen feet or ankles.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor for Your Whole Body - Foods, herbs and drugs can all interact, sometimes in unexpected ways. Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor takes known interactions into account when developing nutritional supplement recommendations, to help safeguard against adverse effects. Learn more, and get your free, personalized Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor recommendation today.

In the absence of underlying disease, the most important thing you can do is to elevate your feet whenever possible - ideally, to the level of your chest or higher (put a pillow under your legs when you’re lying down). This will improve blood flow to the heart and reduce the amount of fluid that collects in your ankles and feet. You can also wear support hose to enhance circulation and give your legs a bit of a massage. Try not to sit or stand in the same position for long periods of time. And you might try cutting back on your salt intake, since that can contribute to the swelling. You also want to protect swollen areas from pressure, injury, or extreme changes in temperature as damage to swollen skin can take longer to heal and can become easily infected.

These measures are likely to help more than any supplement I can recommend. However, studies in Europe suggest that horse chestnut extract may provide some relief to swollen feet and legs, partly by making small blood vessels less apt to leak fluid into surrounding tissue. Look for products with at least 20 percent escin, the active ingredient in horse chestnut. Start with 500-600 milligrams a day. If that helps, reduce the dosage by half for continued use. While horse chestnut is safe, it's not for everyone. Don't take it if you have kidney or liver disease, if you're pregnant or nursing, or if you're using anticoagulant drugs.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle, LLC on DrWeil.com (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!
 

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

 
Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here